Ann Work Expo Health. 2024 Apr 10:wxae024. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxae024. Online ahead of print.


Measuring the physical demands of work is important in understanding the relationship between exposure to these job demands and their impact on the safety, health, and well-being of working people. However, work is changing and our knowledge of job demands should also evolve in anticipation of these changes. New opportunities exist for noninvasive long-term measures of physical demands through wearable motion sensors, including inertial measurement units, heart rate monitors, and muscle activity monitors. Inertial measurement units combine accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers to provide continuous measurement of a segment’s motion and the ability to estimate orientation in 3-dimensional space. There is a need for a system-thinking perspective on how and when to apply these wearable sensors within the context of research and practice surrounding the measurement of physical job demands. In this paper, a framework is presented for measuring the physical work demands that can guide designers, researchers, and users to integrate and implement these advanced sensor technologies in a way that is relevant to the decision-making needs for physical demand assessment. We (i) present a literature review of the way physical demands are currently being measured, (ii) present a framework that extends the International Classification of Functioning to guide how technology can measure the facets of work, (iii) provide a background on wearable motion sensing, and (iv) define 3 categories of decision-making that influence the questions that we can ask and measures that are needed. By forming questions within these categories at each level of the framework, this approach encourages thinking about the systems-level problems inherent in the workplace and how they manifest at different scales. Applying this framework provides a systems approach to guide study designs and methodological approaches to study how work is changing and how it impacts worker safety, health, and well-being.

PMID:38597679 | DOI:10.1093/annweh/wxae024