ETdAnalyser: A Model-Based Architecture for Ergonomic Decision Intervention

ETdAnalyser: A Model-Based Architecture for Ergonomic Decision Intervention

Isabel F. Loureiro (University of Minho, Portugal), Celina P. Leão (University of Minho, Portugal), Fábio Costa (University of Minho, Portugal), José Teixeira (University of Minho, Portugal) and Pedro M. Arezes (University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4623-0.ch014
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Abstract

Ergonomic Tridimensional Analysis (ETdA) is a new ergonomic approach that makes possible the identification and description of several ergonomic contexts defined by common areas where clients or consumers are subject to similar activities normally carried out by professionals. The development of this decision tool includes several steps, such as conceptualization of the problem, definition of the three ETdA dimensions and observation tools, data collection, and weighting the results leading to ergonomic intervention proposal. The software, named ETdAnalyser, is proposed to provide the ergonomist or analyst a fast and simple way of collecting and analysing data. This system is considered to be a decision-making support tool for ergonomic intervention, representing a relevant contribution to the advance of the ergonomics field.
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Introduction

Commercial Areas with Free Circulation of People (CAFCP) are characterized by large open spaces where Professionals and Clients share the same space and have different interactions. In modern society, the differentiation of the ergonomic context is the result of a market customization, where Clients are becoming intrinsically linked to the organizations. Nowadays, most of the traditional commercial activities have been replaced by common areas where Clients’ interactions are related not only to Professionals but also to other levels of the socio-technical system, such as the organization, manager, technological, and governmental levels. In a narrower sense, it is possible to say that an ergonomic approach aims to characterize the working areas, by identifying the risk factors. This allows the definition of the priorities regarding the identified factors. This priority list gives the diagnosis of the studied conditions (Stanton, Hedge, Brookhuis, Salas & Hendrick, 2005). In order to provide an effective system approach in terms of ergonomic analysis, it is important to characterize the ergonomic context. This can be made by describing the workers’ activities and the work organization, by identifying the system participants, and by defining the importance of the relations between the different levels of the system. Through the study and understanding of the real work activities, it is possible to observe Clients’ influence on many aspects of the worker performance. Considering a system approach, Clients may interact directly with the personal subsystem and, through this, they may have influence on the environment subsystem and, in a certain way, they command the strategies of the organizational subsystem. The strategies defined by managers will certainly have influence on workers’ activities. Clients, or in a broad sense consumers, patients, students, etc. must be integrated in a system approach not only from an organization management perspective but also as being a part of the system. Taking this into consideration, organizations must have both social and economical goals to achieve the optimization of the performance of the overall system. Therefore, it is important to study and characterize, not only the situation and working conditions related to these areas (occupational goal), but also from the Clients’ comfort and wellbeing perspective, as well as Professionals and Clients attendance in the area (usability goal). In these situations, the ergonomic approach must also recognize that Clients are an active part of the ergonomic context. Based on Zink’s (2000) research, it is possible to say that (1) most of the ergonomic approaches are focused on specific topics or ergonomic contexts, (2) usually ergonomics is developed under an outside-in approach, where problems are not properly analysed, and (3) a balance between research and real work context is not always achieved. According to this line of thinking, challenges can be transformed into opportunities.

Indeed, the existent strategies for ergonomics data collection have not evolved during the past decade. Traditional ergonomics data collection methods are usually based on systematic indirect observation, direct measurements and workers’ perceptions and subjective judgments. This type of data collection is time-consuming and subjective (Van Der Beek, Mathiassen & Burdorf, 2013; Lee & Lee, 2012). Much has been done in terms of simulation and 3D modelling to aid the ergonomic analysis. Nevertheless, advances on technologies that provide a faster way of performing data collection and generation of reports including the decision-making process for the ergonomic interventions, are necessary.

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