Objectives: The aim of the study was to present an observation method focusing on the positions of the hands relative to the body and to evaluate whether this simple observation technique gives a reliable estimate of the total time spent in each of five work postures during one workday.
Methods: In the first part of the study the interobserver reliability of the observation method was tested with eight blue-collar workers. In the second part the observed time spent with work above the shoulder level was tested in relation to an upper-arm position analyzer, and observed time spent in work below knuckle level was tested in relation to a trunk flexion analyzer, both with 72 blue-collar workers.
Results: The interobserver reliability for full-day registrations was high. The intraclass correlation coefficients ranged from 0.99 to 1.00. The observed duration of work with hands above shoulder level correlated well with the measured duration of pronounced arm elevation (> 75 degrees). The product moment correlation coefficient was 0.97. The observed duration of work with hands below knuckle level correlated well with the measured duration of pronounced trunk flexion angles (> 40 degrees). The product moment correlation coefficient was 0.98.
Conclusion: The present observation method, designed to make postural observations continuously for several hours, is easy to learn and seems reliable.