May 30 (UPI) -- Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a new Self-Report Ergonomic Assessment Tool, or SEAT, to measure how much stress computer programs cause.
People who work in desk jobs on computers for several hours a day can develop debilitating hand and wrist problems that can make it difficult to continue to work.
Identifying and correcting software-inducing ergonomic problems can be difficult and expensive, so researchers at Texas A&M School of Public Health have created the Self-Report Ergonomic Assessment Tool, or SEAT, to quickly and easily determine how much stress computer programs put on the user.
"You can fix a bad design on a drawing board," Paul Ritchey, a doctoral candidate at the School of Public Health, said in a press release. "And with SEAT, you can fix software before it goes out, and there's no need to buy special equipment."
SEAT consists of self-reporting of discomfort or strain and doesn't require any special training making it faster and less expensive than other methods.
"The SEAT can look at two concepts of ergonomic risk: stressors, like bad posture, and strain, pain or discomfort that comes from the stressor," Ritchey said. "The idea is for SEAT to be used as a barometer for ergonomic risks through software design cycles."
Geoscientists, in particular, are more prone to developing hand and wrist injuries from the work they do.
"Geoscientists are an interesting workforce--they are the highly trained 'rainmakers' of the oil and gas industry," Ritchey said. "The more you work, the more you are at risk. Injured geoscientists result in a lot of pain and time off."
Geoscientists were recruited from a convention to help develop the SEAT program.
"The overarching goal of the development of the SEAT was to find an effective method for integrating the science and practice of ergonomics into the development lifecycle of software. Therefore, it had to provide accurate information that was available very quickly," Camille Peres, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health, said. "We initially leveraged items from existing ergonomic measures and adjusted them so they would be appropriate for self-report and the office environment."
The study was published in Applied Ergonomics.