This paper aims to present user experience survey results of innovative software assessment technologies available in the market aimed in evaluating risks of industrial-related ergonomic hazards. The scope covers industrial ergonomics softwares currently available for purchase where time-limited free trial is offered, particularly those that utilize 3D Motion Capture Assessment which relies on kinematic inputs aided by non-invasive computer technology and artificial intelligence, and makes use of pre-determined weightings based on biomechanical risk factors.
In light of the inclusion criterion, six industrial ergonomics softwares were considered. User field trials were conducted during January to September 2020 among 10 Occupational Health Subject Matter Experts (OH SME) coming from seven oil and gas Group Companies. Each OH SME attended a product demonstration by the shortlisted software vendor, participated in software trial at their respective workplaces, and provided feedback on the software's usability by filling out a survey questionnaire. OH SME responses were then collected for further qualitative analyses.
Three of the eligible softwares relied on photo snapshot capturing work activity where subsequent analysis is done through competent professional judgment of qualitative risk. Another three were dependent on 3D Motion Capture Assessment where upper and lower limb motions of employees are digitally captured, recorded, and analyzed. Two of the softwares utilized sensors attached to different parts of employee's body, while one relied on Android/Smartphone snapshot of work activity and analyzed by the software's algorithm. Analyses of OH SME feedback revealed majority of them (n = 7) preferred using 3D Motion Capture Assessment over professional judgment of qualitative risk as an effective tool in evaluation of industrial work-related ergonomic risks. 3D Motion Capture Assessment provided accurate measurements of employee joint postures and postural angles. The tool ensured consistency in risk scoring for a particular industrial-related work activity as the calculation is standardized. The tool's algorithm is aligned with globally accepted assessment tools in evaluating ergonomic risks which enhances its validity. OH SMEs have expressed concerns on use of Android/Smartphone in Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority facilities, training time needed in learning the software, and repetitive use of motion sensors among different employees which may lead to personal hygiene issues.
3D Motion Capture Assessment is a novel ergonomics software tool that can be used in real-time and accurate evaluation of ergonomic risks arising from industrial work-related activities. It can replace observational assessment of a work activity that may be prone to professional judgment errors. However, more validation and reliability studies need to be done in future as well as determining association between ergonomics risk scores obtained from the software and prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.