Development, application, and reliability of methods for ergonomic workload assessments in production evaluation and workstation design

Abstract: Ergonomics assessments of conditions for humans at workstations and in manufacturing processes are necessary to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders and enhance efficiency and quality. Many methods can be used for this from systematic observations to direct measurements and simulation. Investigations of the accuracy and reliability of many methods as well as comparisons between them have been performed, but there is still need for further work as well as development of new methods. The inter- and intra-rater reliability of the OCRA checklist was studied through eleven ergonomists’ risk-assessments of ten video-recorded work tasks on two occasions. The statistical analysis included several parameters of reliability of which Cohen's linearly weighted kappa was the primary measure. The inter-rater agreement of the OCRA checklist was 39%, and the weighted kappa was 0.43; the intra-rater dittos were 45% and 0.52. This indicated that the OCRA checklist is a moderately reliable tool. A risk assessment approach for digital human modelling (DHM) was developed. The approach included a reference database of epidemiological relationships between directly measured exposure and related musculoskeletal disorders. For illustration, a case in manual assembly was simulated; exposures were calculated and compared to the reference data to indicate the risk of WMSDs. The application and detailed assessment would be helpful to prioritise among different design solutions. A 3D digital prototype laparoscopic robotic console was ergonomically evaluated using the DHM tool IMMA with 12 manikins representing anthropometries of the Swedish and US population. Work-ranges of the console and the manikins were calculated, compared and ergonomically assessed using the Swedish standards and a US checklist for computer work. The assessment criteria related to the adjustable ranges of the screen height, height of the armrest, adjustable range of the pedals were not fulfilled. The DHM tool IMMA provides the possibility for a pre-production assessment of static work tasks.

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