Impact of task design on task performance and injury risk: case study of a simulated drilling task

Journal Article
Publication Abstract: 

Existing evidence is limited regarding the influence of task design on performance and ergonomic risk, or the association between these two outcomes. In a controlled experiment, we constructed a mock fuselage to simulate a drilling task common in aircraft manufacturing, and examined the effect of three levels of workstation adjustability on performance as measured by productivity (e.g. fuselage completion time) and quality (e.g. fuselage defective holes), and ergonomic risk as quantified using two common methods (rapid upper limb assessment and the strain index). The primary finding was that both productivity and quality significantly improved with increased adjustability, yet this occurred only when that adjustability succeeded in reducing ergonomic risk. Supporting the inverse association between ergonomic risk and performance, the condition with highest adjustability created the lowest ergonomic risk and the best performance while there was not a substantial difference in ergonomic risk between the other two conditions, in which performance was also comparable.