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Towards monitoring physical workload for sustainable employability
PhD ceremony:dr. ir. C.C. (Charissa) Roossien
When:March 24, 2021
Supervisors:prof. dr. M.F. (Michiel) Reneman, prof. dr. ir. G.J. (Bart) Verkerke
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG

Worldwide, the life expectancy and retirement age are rapidly increasing, resulting in an ageing workforce that often experiences a misbalance between work capacity and workload. This will negatively impact the workability, health, and safety of workers. This dissertation presents four new monitoring systems to determine the physical workload of workers and their physiological responses in an objective, non-obstructive, and safe manner: 1. With a “smart” chair sitting behavior of office workers can be monitored in the workplace. 2. The working postures and movements and its related backload of physical active workers can be monitored automatically with a sensor suit and new artificial neural network. 3. An innovative breathing gas-analyzing headset was developed with which internal physiological responses can be monitored and energy expenditure quantified. 4. With a wearable thermometer in the ear, the core temperature can be monitored, however, the accuracy was not validated in real-life working conditions.

Ultimately, these systems should assist the worker to achieve a balance between workload and the worker’s capacity. After final design and validation steps, these sensor technologies are ready to be used to contribute to the realization of a sustainable workforce. When developing such sensor technologies, engineers and scientists need to consider how the design and implementation of their technologies influence and mold the values of employers and workers and adapt their technologies to increase ethical acceptance. This interplay between design and implementation is critical for the success of responsible innovations.