Dr Robyn ComanRobyn Web 2


Senior Lecturer
Work Health & Safety Academic Program
University of Wollongong

PHONE: +61 2 42 21 5348




  • PhD, University of New South Wales (UNSW), 2015
  • Graduate Certificate in OHS Management, University of New South Wales, 2005
  • Master of Science & Technology (Ergonomics), University of New South Wales, 2003
  • Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training (BSZ98). Auswide Projects, 2003
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Cumberland College of Health Sciences (now University of Sydney), 1981

Professional Registration/Memberships

  • Registered Physiotherapist (AHPRA)
  • Australian Physiotherapy Association Member (APA Member)
  • Member Human Factors & Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA)
  • Secretary, HFESA OHS Special Interest Group (OHSSIG)
  • Committee Member, HFESA Health Special Interest Group (HealthSIG)
  • Secretary, HFESA NSW Chapter Committee


Dr Robyn Coman is a Registered Physiotherapist and Ergonomist. Robyn worked initially as a clinical Physiotherapist within the hospital sector, private practice and aged care. An interest in Manual Handling of People (MHP) Risk Management (also known as patient handling) lead to a Masters degree in Ergonomics, and practice as a Physiotherapist/ Ergonomist across health, aged care and disability sectors, as well as more broadly within industry.

Since 2006, she has also worked as a tertiary educator and has had extensive experience in development and delivery of courses in ergonomics and OHS risk management at UNSW, La Trobe University and the University of Wollongong. Since joining UOW in 2014 as a Senior Lecturer and Course Director of the WHS Program, she has had a key role in launching the revised WHS program which utilises a flexible or ‘flipped classroom’ approach to course delivery.

Robyn’s research interests are in the area of physical ergonomics, in particular optimising environmental design to promote independent functional mobility of the older adult. Her PhD research focused on promoting mobility of aged care residents within the manual handling of people (MHP) interaction, through optimising environmental factors such as chair and bed height, and thereby minimising injury risk exposure for care staff. This research lead to the development, content validation and field testing of a new Patient/ Person Handling Assessment Tool: the Pro-Mobility Patient/Person Handling Assessment Tool or Pro-Mob.


The 2003 Human Factors & Ergonomics Society of Australia (NSW) Prize (Shared) for the best overall performance in all prescribed core courses by a graduating student in the Master of Science & Technology (Ergonomics) or the Graduate Diploma Science and Technology in Ergonomics program.

Teaching and Coordination

  • HAS 201 Work Health & Safety
  • HAS 235 Productivity & Design
  • HAS 341 Introduction to Work Injury Management
  • HAS 860 People & Work
  • HAS 870 Work Injury Management
  • HAS 979 Ergonomic Essentials

Research Interests

Publications/ Conference Presentations:

  • Keir, R. (1990) “Shoulder Pain Differentiation”. Australian Institute of Nordic Manual Therapy Newsletter. 4 (1) 3–11.
  • Coman, R. & Kothiyal, K. (2004) “Investigation of force requirement in patient handling by transfer slide sheet.” Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia and the 7th Annual Conference of Pan Pacific Council on Occupational Ergonomics. “Ergonomics for a BIZ-e World”. August 22 – 25, 2004. Cairns, Australia.
  • Coman, R., Jeschke, P. & Quinn, J. (2006) “Replacing ‘disability’ with ‘functional ability’. Research tools and techniques.” Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia. November 20 - 22, 2006. Sydney, Australia. Workshop.
  • Coman, R. (2008) “Patient Handling Research: Shifting Focus. Patient Handling Assessment Tools.” Proceedings of the Australian Association for the Manual Handling of People 3rd Biennial Conference, “Handle with Care”, Melbourne, Australia, April 16 - 18, 2008. Keynote Address.
  • Coman, R. & Sykes, C. (2008) “Is the World Health Organisation (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) relevant to ergonomics.” Proceedings of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA) Annual Conference, Adelaide, Australia, November, 2008
  • Coman, R. & McIntosh, A. (2008) “Assessing manual handling related injury risk exposure in residential aged care with the MAPO Index (Movement and Assistance of Hospital Patients). A Pilot Study.” Human Factors & Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA) Annual Conference, Adelaide, Australia, November, 2008.
  • Coman, R. & McIntosh, A. (2009) “Maximising mobility of aged care residents and minimising injury risk exposure for care staff. An investigation of the ‘patient’ perspective of the manual handling interaction.” New Zealand Manual Handling of People Special Interest Group Inaugural Patient Handling Seminar, ‘Move it New Zealand’, Auckland, New Zealand, May 11, 2009. Keynote Address.
  • Coman, R. & Caponecchia, C. (2013) “Challenges of the Delphi Technique for validation of a patient/person handling assessment tool.” Human Factors & Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA) Annual Conference, Perth, Australia, November, 2013.
  • Coman, R., (2014) ‘Maximising mobility and minimising injury risk in aged care: Indexing environment related manual handling of people (MHP) risk controls that may influence patient mobility.’ PhD Snapshot Presentation: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Conference, November 17-19, Adelaide, Australia.
  • Coman, R. & Caponecchia, C. (2015) ‘Manual Handling of People (MHP) Risk Management: a survey of aged care staff knowledge and understanding of environment related MHP risk control interventions.’ 19th Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), Melbourne, Australia, 9 – 14 August 2015.


Last reviewed: 21 December, 2016