The use of subjective rating of exertion in Ergonomics.

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In Ergonomics, the use of psychophysical methods for subjectively evaluating work tasks and determining acceptable loads has become more common. Daily activities at the work site are studied not only with physiological methods but also with perceptual estimation and production methods. The psychophysical methods are of special interest in field studies of short-term work tasks for which valid physiological measurements are difficult to obtain. The perceived exertion, difficulty and fatigue that a person experiences in a certain work situation is an important sign of a real or objective load. Measurement of the physical load with physiological parameters is not sufficient since it does not take into consideration the particular difficulty of the performance or the capacity of the individual. It is often difficult from technical and biomechanical analyses to understand the seriousness of a difficulty that a person experiences. Physiological determinations give important information, but they may be insufficient due to the technical problems in obtaining relevant but simple measurements for short-term activities or activities involving special movement patterns. Perceptual estimations using Borg's scales give important information because the severity of a task's difficulty depends on the individual doing the work. Observation is the most simple and used means to assess job demands. Other evaluations integrating observation are the followings: indirect estimation of energy expenditure based on prediction equations or direct measurement of oxygen consumption; measurements of forces, angles and biomechanical parameters; measurements of physiological and neurophysiological parameters during tasks. It is recommended that determinations of performances of occupational activities assess rating of perceived exertion and integrate these measurements of intensity levels with those of activity's type, duration and frequency. A better estimate of the degree of physical activity of individuals thus can be obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-89
Number of pages6
JournalGiornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro ed Ergonomia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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