BACKGROUND: Workers with physically demanding work may be at risk for injury, illness or other adverse health outcomes due to exposure to different occupational hazards, especially at higher age. Sensor technology applications may be useful in the workplace to unobtrusively measure and monitor work exposures and provide workers with real-time feedback or access to data on demand. Many aspects might impede the implementation of sensor technology applications in the workplace, which should be taken into consideration for a successful implementation. Moreover, needs and preferences of workers regarding the use of sensor technology applications during work performance need to be identified. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify worker needs and preferences regarding the use of sensor technology applications in the workplace.
METHODS: Four on-site focus group sessions were conducted in four different companies among workers with physically demanding work (n = 30). Semi-structured interview schedules were used to identify which work exposures should be measured, by which kind of sensor technology applications, under which (pre)conditions, how to motivate long-term use of sensor technology applications, and which type of feedback is preferred. For data analysis, a content-analysis with an inductive approach was performed.
RESULTS: Participants mentioned that they want to use wearable sensor technology applications to measure and monitor physical job demands, occupational heat stress, noise and fatigue. Factors associated with quality, comfort and perceived ease of use were identified as potential barriers for implementation in the workplace. Long-term motivation was attributed to the ability to manage and monitor work exposures, positive feedback and data ownership. Participants indicated a need to both receive real-time feedback and access to data on demand.
CONCLUSIONS: Sensor technology applications may support workers with physically demanding work to measure and monitor their work exposures. Potential barriers for implementation such as privacy aspects and quality, comfort and perceived ease of use of sensor technology applications need to be well considered to ensure successful implementation of sensor technology applications in the workplace.