E-worker postural comfort in the third-workplace: An ergonomic design assessment

Work. 2020;66(3):519-538. doi: 10.3233/WOR-203195.


Background: Biomechanical simulation is an important tool in human-centred design, allowing for the assessment of comfort interactions between user, product and space, to optimize design features from an ergonomics perspective.

Objective: The aim of this study was to develop a biomechanical model for the evaluation of postural comfort levels.

Methods: The study used the scenario-based method to focus on the electronic-worker (e-worker) sedentary tablet tasks at public workplace (third-workplace) configurations. An empirical method determined work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) risk levels. The experimental method was based on a motion-capture marker-based laboratory protocol and biomechanical model. Body postures were analysed to determine the WMSDs risk to the joints, and were compared to subjective questionnaires.

Results: Posture was affected by the tablet target location and workplace setting. The findings confirmed our hypothesis, that neutral-position cost functions govern human motion. Almost half of the time, the e-workers' joints tended to remain in the neutral position range; of the three third-workplaces, high-risk variability was less significant between the 'restaurant' and 'lounge' settings, compared to the 'anywhere' configuration.

Conclusions: This evaluation model can contribute to optimizing comfort level in design for third-workplace settings and other sedentary work activities; it can be used to develop guidelines for minimizing work-related strain and health hazards.

Keywords: Physical ergonomics; e-worker; range of motion (ROM); work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs).

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases* / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases* / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Posture
  • Risk Factors
  • Workplace