Evaluating the effect of perceived mental workload on work body postures


Industrial and Systems Engineering

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Mental workload is a multidimensional construct that involves the characteristics of the task, individual factors, and the environment where the task is performed. Responses to tasks that are perceived as mentally demanding can exacerbate ergonomics risk factors affecting employee behavior and attitude, leading to risky actions such as awkward body postures, and consequently increasing physiological susceptibility to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The present study looked to establish if the perception of mental workload can be affected by psychosocial work factors that generate changes in the environment in which humans must perform the tasks. The study also looked to determine if changes in perceived mental workload generated changes in the body postures undertaken to perform an activity to lay the foundation for future exploration into the influence of perceived mental workload over physical demands. The results of this study indicate, that an increase in the perception of mental workload is associated with worse body postures. This study is novel and contributes to overcoming an important shortcoming in the field of mental workload by considering the influence of psychosocial factors, keeping the physical load constant, on the perception of mental workload and its influence on body postures. This interaction between perceived mental workload and its effects on physical risk should be considered in occupational settings since often, employees are exposed to concurrent physical and mental demands that increase the likelihood of developing WMSDs.

Journal Title

International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics

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