(Source: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA) Newsletter Number 14)
Sharing by Justine Chim
Combining Expertise in Human Resources Management with
Ergonomics and OHS Management
Due to using computer for long hours, I suffered from De Quervain disease. Hong Kong only has limited information about the treatment of this disease and unwittingly, I found and read a book concerning ergonomics, gaining a strong interest in studying ergonomics as a result. Eventually, I went on to study a Master of Ergonomics at the University of Queensland in 2004 rejecting an offer of studying for my MBA at a well-known university in the United States. When I decided to study ergonomics, none of my friends and family members knew “what ergonomics is”! However, it did not hamper my decision to study ergonomics.
I am a Hong Kong Chinese and graduated with first-class honours in Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) with a major in Human Resources Management, at Hong Kong Baptist University. After graduation, I worked as a human resources executive in Hong Kong and China for about six years. My interest is to setup/review the human resources (HR) departments and systems for improving the HR management efficiency. I had successfully setup and reviewed the HR departments for eight local and multinational corporations in Asia and completed about 20 human resources projects. One of the biggest assignments was to setup the human resources department, during the three years pre-operating stage, for a new container terminal in Hong Kong. It was my last job before going to Australia.
Beautiful Hong Kong night scene
Ergonomics is a relatively new topic in Hong Kong and if we want to apply ergonomics knowledge in Hong Kong, it needs to combine with other relevant knowledge such as Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Management. After consultation with my ergonomics professor, I decided to study the Postgraduate Diploma in OHS Management program at the University of Adelaide. In 2005, I completed the Master of Ergonomics and a Postgraduate Diploma in OHS Management. I am delighted to be the first Hong Kong graduate from the University of Queensland’s Master of Ergonomics program. In addition, I was awarded the Most Outstanding OHS Graduate Student Medal - South Australian Division by the Safety Institute of Australia.
The University of Queensland- St Lucia Campus
The University of Adelaide - The Barr Simth Library
The learning experience in Australia opened up many career opportunities and widened my management knowledge and skills at another level. I learned the theoretical knowledge and was also able to acquire practical experience in the class and project assignments as well. One of the most memorable experiences was to deliver a presentation and publish one of my academic projects at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia annual conference in 2006. The study was conducted in a major South Australian hospital. The physical demands, physiological responses and perceived workload were analysed to identify the risk factors arising from six manual tasks performed by Kitchen Hands. This was a valuable experience to further build up my strong interest and pursuit in the ergonomics profession.
My first ergonomics work experience was working for the Arnott’s Biscuits in Adelaide for a manual handling risk management project. After finishing the first year of the Master of Ergonomics program, I moved to Adelaide to study OHS Management. It was not a plan, but I lived on the opposite side of the road of the Arnott’s Biscuits Marleston factory. The smell of biscuits baking was irresistible and it woke me up every morning. What a coincidence that Arnott’s Biscuits was looking for a candidate for undertaking a manual handling risk management project. I got the job in Arnott’s and this job opportunity not only enhanced my manual handling risk management skills, but also developed my confidence to work in an overseas country. In the same year, I was employed by the South Australian WorkCover Corporation as OHS Project Officer.
Arnott's Biscuits - Marleston South Australia
The WorkCover Corporation - South Australia
After I graduated from the ergonomics and OHS studies, my first full time job was employment as an OHS and HR Manager for a fibre-glass piping manufacturing company, Fibrelogic Pipe Systems, in Lonsdale, South Australia. I led the OHS and HR team on developing, implementing, monitoring and continually improving the OHS and HR systems for a fast growing organisation in a brand new factory. It was a very challenging role for a new ergonomics and OHS graduate, especially as I was the youngest and only female manager in the management team. I enjoyed the time working with management as well as the OHS committee. We had the same ambition to create a safe and healthy working environment. It was this warm and harmonious working environment which I missed the Australia the most.
The ergonomics employment market is yet to be developed in Hong Kong although the manual handling type injury, i.e. injured whilst lifting or carrying, has been recorded the highest injury category in all industrial undertakings. Since returning to my home country, I have the ambition to promote ergonomics applications in Hong Kong and hope to reduce the work related musculoskeletal disorders injury, promote the workers’ comfort and assist in a company’s productivity advancement. I have been exploring every avenue to pursue my interest and ambition in the ergonomics profession.
| The Fibrelogic Pipe Systems
In 2007, the Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong profiled me as an interesting Australian alumni graduate through radio and press coverage. I received a valuable chance to promote ergonomics to the community. I have many friends who told me that they knew what I was doing in Australia just through the media interviews. I am very pleased to have received the support from both my family and friends. I will love continuing my career in ergonomics, OHS and HR management.
~ Justine Chim