Jim Potvin, PhD

Jim Potvin, PhD, worked as an Ergonomist at General Motors and was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph (1992-1997), then Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Windsor (1997-2006), then Associate Professor and Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University (2006-2015), where he is now Professor Emeritus. He’s taught over 65 university courses. He’s a co-founder of and currently teaches courses in, the University of California Berkeley COEH Online Ergonomics Program. Jim was a Board Member of the Canadian College for the Certification of Canadian Ergonomists (2014-17) and their President in 2017.

Dr. Potvin is an author of the Liberty Mutual Manual Materials Handling (LM-MMH) Equations, the Maximum Acceptable Effort (MAE) Equation, the Arm Force Field method, the Recommended Cumulative Recovery Analysis, and HandPak and BakPak software packages, among many other contributions to ergonomics practice. Since 1992, he’s supervised 72 graduate students and employed 75 graduates, published over 90 scientific articles, presented over 130 conference abstracts, written over 40 technical reports and secured over $3.8 million in research funds. His research was funded predominantly by Ford Motor Company, but also by the Automotive Partnership Canada and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), The Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD), AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence, Canadian Foundation of Innovation and various automotive manufacturers. Jim has been providing ergonomics and biomechanics consulting services since 1988, is the owner of Potvin Biomechanics Inc., and has consulted for many companies across the manufacturing, health care, and technology energy sectors.

Jim received the Research Partner Award from USCAR in 2012, The Sir Frederic Bartlett Award for outstanding contributions to ergonomics/human factors research from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors in 2018, and the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) Triennial Outstanding Educators Award in 2021.




  • Provide launch ergonomists for manufacturing
  • Experience launching vehicles for major automotive companies since 2003
  • Perform workplace injury risk evaluations
  • use standardized ergonomic tools for task analyses
  • recommend the redesign of hazardous workstations
  • Establish proactive ergonomics processes
  • develop corporate ergonomics procedures
  • coordinate with management and unions
  • Conduct advanced ergonomics analyses
  • develop and use state-of-the-art tools
  • validate existing tools
  • Office ergonomics
  • perform workstation assessments
  • recommend VDT station modifications and equipment
  • Evaluate patient handling
  • lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying assessments
  • optimize health care workplace environments
  • recommend the most cost-effective interventions


  • Lab & Field research expertise
  • Digital human model development
  • Muscle fatigue analysis
  • Psychophysics
  • Musculoskeletal modelling
  • Human movement biomechanics
  • Joint stability calculation
  • Impact biomechanics
  • Electromyography


Ergonomics Software


  • Software developed to quantify acceptable forces and torques for occupational tasks placing demands on the forearm, wrist and hand.
  • Modules include the analysis of:
  • forearm pronation & supination torques
  • wrist flexion, extension, radial deviation and ulnar deviation torques
  • various pinch and hand grips
  • pushes and pulls with the fingers & thumbs and hand grips
  • Tasks can be assessed for single effort strength, or to account for duty cycle (combination of effort durations and frequencies)
  • HandPakTM is used by many companies in vehicle assembly, parts manufacturing, rehabilitation, laboratory technology, consulting, health sciences, government agencies, and many others.


This software determines acceptable loads for lifting and lowering and was developed to integrate:

  • Biomechanical modelling of lumbar compression forces
  • Liberty Mutual Tables
  • Metabolic cost
  • Epidemiological research.
  • Corrections can be made for percent capable, duration, frequency, load asymmetry and coupling
  • BakPakTM integrates all the information and decides on the acceptable load based on the most appropriate criterion, or criteria, to base the limit.

Training Modules

  • Introduction to the Ergonomics of MMH Tasks
  • Advanced Ergonomics Analyses of MMH Tasks
  • Introduction to the Ergonomics of Hand Intensive Tasks
  • Advanced Ergonomics Analyses of Hand Intensive Tasks
  • Office Ergonomics
  • Workplace (Re)Design
  • Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Evaluating Repetitive, Combined and Complex Tasks
  • Ergonomics & Industrial Engineering
  • The Economics of Ergonomics
  • Ergonomics in Healthcare