Introducing… an ergonomist

Introducing… an ergonomist

Holance Chan is an ergonomist with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). He travels between sites helping various staff members and has been working at HHS for 6 years.

Favourite colour: blue/ book: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls/ music: 90’s Hip hop or R&B/ food: my mom’s home cooking/ holiday: Christmas

“I was drawn to the idea of preventing injuries, by creatively making changes in the environment, rather than simply ‘using proper body mechanics’.”

What made you enter your Field of work?
In my last year of high school, I took ‘Bioscientific Perspective’ which focused on the science of human movement. I found the class very intriguing and it led me to explore the field of Kinesiology in university. During my first year course of Biomechanics, I was introduced to the study of Ergonomics. The underlying approach to, ‘fit the job to the worker, not the other way around’ was an idea I found particularly interesting during the class and it became a passion of mine. I was drawn to the idea of preventing injuries, by creatively making changes in the environment, rather than simply ‘using proper body mechanics’. I have also had teachers and mentors along the way, who played a vital role in both motivating me and offering opportunities at different junctures of my career.

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Describe your most challenging days at HHS.
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) represent 50% of the injuries that staff experience at HHS. With that, there are always opportunities for the involvement of the Ergonomics Team. The most difficult days at work involve juggling and prioritizing requests. It is challenging knowing that I likely will not have time to address everyone’s concerns as quickly as I and they might want. Prioritizing these tasks is especially hard when the all of the requests involve HHS staff who have been injured.

“A couple weeks after, I bumped into her and she was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to share how well things were going.”

What do you wish you had more time for at work?
It’s really cliché to say this, but I genuinely wish I was able to spend more time to connecting with staff. More time would allow me to better recognize, understand, and feel the stressors and factors that impact their ability to work safely.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.
A couple years ago, I was working with a nurse who was struggling to return back to work safely following a significant shoulder injury. We were reviewing different strategies on how to safely turn a patient, both for the patient and her own safety. I showed her a technique she had never seen before. It uses an extra flat sheet to distribute the patient’s weight to the caregiver’s larger muscle groups, which puts less strain on her body.

She was concerned that her colleagues would scoff at such a strategy and that it would not be received well by the patient and the patient’s family. After discussing ways to gain support, both from her manager as well as her peers, she agreed to try the technique out for the next week. A couple weeks after, I bumped into her and she was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to share how well things were going. She revealed that she was continuing to use the technique and was now encouraging all of her colleagues to employ the same approach, when appropriate. To know that I am able to provide a positive contribution to those that tirelessly provide care to the community and our loved ones is something I find very rewarding.

When you tell people what you do, how do they usually react?
In my opinion, Ergonomics is still not very well understood by the general public. It’s often used as a ‘buzz word’ to market products. Having said that, most people do associate it with ‘Safety’ and as the prevalence of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) gains more awareness, I think people will start to better understand how Ergonomics can be integrated in their daily lives (both at work and at home!)

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
My mother created my name, in efforts to help my father with his pronunciation of the English language.

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