Dave AndrewsDave Andrews works on a laptop in his office in the Human Kinetics building. The kinesiology professor is looking for participants for a study to help identify ergonomic risk factors associated with mobile device use.

Mobile device users needed for ergonomics research

Cell phones, tablets and laptops have dramatically changed the way people do work. Now a University of Windsor ergonomics researcher wants to know if that work might be hurting them.

“There are some specific risk factors associated with mobile devices that aren’t accounted for with our current method of assessment,” said Dave Andrews, a human kinetics professor recruiting people to participate in a new study.

Andrews was part of a team that developed an ergonomic checklist of risk factors to determine whether how people are positioned at their office computer work stations contributes to problems like pain or discomfort in the back, upper extremities and neck. Graduate students conducting the research on that project visited people in their offices, assessed factors like the placement of monitors, phones, and the adjustability of chairs, and then made recommendations to avoid health complications associated with improper positioning.

That method, however, was developed before the rapid growth in the availability of mobile technology.

“It just doesn’t account for specific risk factors associated with using mobile devices while working,” said Dr. Andrews, who is hoping for about 75 participants to enroll in the study.

Andrews said research assistants working on the new study will visit participants in their offices, observe them at work, ask them to demonstrate how they interact with their mobile devices, and ask them if they experience any discomfort. The visit should take any about 30 minutes, he said.

To be eligible to participate you need to be a current staff or faculty member and use at least one mobile device to do your job, either at home or on campus. People are not eligible if they had an ergonomics assessment of their computer workstation done by someone in kinesiology within the last year, or if pain or discomfort will keep them from doing their normal job on the day of the assessment.

Participants will receive a complimentary computer workstation evaluation, and tips on how to adjust their existing computer workstation in order to remain healthy, comfortable and productive in the workplace.

If you are interested in participating, contact Cory Thuy at thuyc@uwindsor.ca to schedule your assessment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the study, contact Andrews at dandrews@uwindsor.ca.

For more information, visit the study website.

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