Demographic change poses major challenges for the world of work. Due to the increasing proportion of older employees, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are likely to become even more common in the future than they are today. Employees have to be protected from overuse injuries if WMSDs are to be prevented.
The BIONIC project has developed intelligent work clothing which is able to detect body postures with the help of integrated sensors. This innovative method is used to systematically analyse the physical strain on employees over long periods in order to reduce the amounts of time and effort required for such evaluations. It allows physical strains to be identified in good time and suitable measures taken to avert WMSDs.
The reliability and usability of the developed system was tested by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in a laboratory study, at a manufacturing facility, and on a construction site. The results from the studies showed that the intelligent workwear correctly detected participants’ body postures for the most part under controlled conditions. During longer recording sessions at real workplaces, however, there were major inaccuracies in the classification of body postures. Nevertheless, the technology has the potential to systematically detect risk factors in the future on the basis of workplace posture analyses and thus help make work safer and healthier.
Unit 2.3 "Human Factors, Ergonomics"