Designing Work

Principle investigators:
PD Dr. Matthias Jäger
PD. Dr. Gerhard Rinkenauer

This topic explores criteria for the ergonomic design of workplaces. Factors of physical and psychological strain and endangerment are investigated, bothin the laboratory and in the field. Mechanisms of action are examined and / or solved on the basis of load and stress models. The findings of this research are used in assessment and design recommendations of workplaces and work organization. Depending on the types of stress investigated, the topic of work design covers two main areas:

A traditionally central aspect of work design is physical strain. A new aspect in this area (with respect to research at IfADo) is the investigation of cognitive demands which play an increasingly important role in modern work environments. Virtual or augmented environments created by data glasses are just two techniques currently being tested in the industry. Effects on human information processing and workers’ mental strain are still largely unexplored. The research approach at the IfADo also includes the investigation of the interplay between cognitive and physiological stress.

In the future, “Cognitive ergonomics” will play a central role in the field of work design in order to be able to respond better to the various demands arising from new technologies. Among other things, the topic of user modeling – which was worked on separately in the past – is included in this field.

Biomechanical Ergonomics

Occupational activities frequently lead to illnesses and complaints in the musculoskeletal system and also to high absenteeism. Risky activities are preferably found in the office, as well as during load handling or when manually moving patients in care.

The goal is a physiologically appropriate design of work and prevention to reduce related health risks.

In addition to basic research, results in this domain are highly relevant in different application contexts (e.g., social relevance) and are thus constantly requested for policy advice.

Cognitive Ergonomics

Due to sustained technical advances, novel or extended task demands arise and change the character of many workplaces. Work processes become increasingly more complex in terms of growing demands regarding the amount of information or communication . Thus, in designing modern workplaces cognitive factors should be considered and should extend classical ergonomic aspects. This includes, for example, issues like information processing, working under time pressure or with changing task demands as well as handling of modern technical devices. Investigating the associated cognitive stress and strain is of central interest for the “Cognitive Ergonomics” unit.