Researchers develop webcam tool to improve posture of office workers

August 4, 2011

Screen shots of the pop-up screen (credit: Meirav Taieb-Maimon, et al.,/Applied Ergonomics)

A multidisciplinary team at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed a new training method using a desktop webcam to improve ergonomic posture and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among office workers using computers.

A group of 60 workers received office training and an automatic frequent-feedback system that displayed a webcam photo of a worker’s current sitting posture alongside the correct posture photo taken during office training.

The results showed that both training methods provided effective short-term posture improvement; however, sustained improvement was only attained with the photo-training method.  Both interventions had a greater effect on older workers and on workers suffering more musculoskeletal pain. The photo-training method had a greater positive effect on women than on men.

The researchers recommended that such self-modeling, photo-training software be installed on the worker’s computer to provide frequent and long-term feedback. The research suggests that this should be implemented in addition to the conventional office ergonomic intervention that combines specialized ergonomic training and workstation adjustments.

Ref.: Meirav Taieb-Maimon, et al., The effectiveness of a training method using self-modeling webcam photos for reducing musculoskeletal risk among office workers using computers, Applied Ergonomics, 2011; [DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2011.05.015]