Ergonomics Mobile App

As a corporate wellness consultant, I worked for a utilities company that wanted an educational curriculum that their supervisors could share with employees to reduce their risk of sustaining musculoskeletal injuries on the job.

The original project resulted in a training toolkit that include a slide presentation, a facilitator’s guide and participant handouts. 

Presentation1

I recently revisited the project to design a digital mobile app in lieu of the paper-based deliverables. 

Project Details

TIME FRAMEMarch - May 2014; prototype created in Dec. 2018
METHODS & SKILLSContextual inquiry, Interviews
INDIVIDUAL/TEAM PROJECTIndividual
TOOLSSketch, Axure RP
DELIVERABLESAxure prototype, facilitator's toolkit, Powerpoint presentation, participant handouts

Business Goal

Employees completed a survey asking if they had developed pain or discomfort related to their job, and if so, to identify the affected area(s) of the body. The top 3 areas of concern (in order) were:

  • knees
  • low back 
  • shoulders 

Because persistent pain may lead some employees to leave their jobs or be reassigned, the company’s goals were to: 

  • keep employees working out in the field longer
  • educate employees on how to reduce their risk of injury
  • reduce the number of disability claims

Research

Data were gathered via observations at field sites with the workers and individual interviews with six employees. 

CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY

I accompanied workers on commercial and residential service calls to observe and record typical climbing, lifting, loading, pushing and kneeling work postures. 

Contact stress on the knee. Faces blurred using http://www.facepixelizer.com

INTERVIEWS

I interviewed six employees about their own experiences with aches and pains and their effect on their jobs. The questions asked included:

  • How long have you been with [the company]?
  • How long have you been working as a field technician?
  • Do you have any aches or pains that you believe are caused by your work?
    • YES: What are they? And how long have you been dealing with them?
    • NO: What do you do to prevent developing aches/pains (if anything)?

Here are a few notable quotes:

I injured my arm...in my 20's...at work and - you think you're invincible when you're in your 20's - and it went away. Well, I guess I was doing something on the farm and it came back...and it would not go away.

My advice to people doing this job...a good masseuse. If I didn't have a masseuse, I'd probably be working in the office by now. I've been seeing a masseuse for 3 years now, on a regular basis, and that's the world.

Sketches, Wireframes and Screenshots

Using the previously created slide presentation and participant handouts, I sketched out ideas, mocked up wireframes in Sketch and created a prototype in Axure. 

Prototype

The primary tab (RISKS) showcases the daily factors contributing to joint pain, followed by tips on how to mitigate those risks.

Business leaders wanted employees to learn the anatomy of the affected muscles and joints. This information was placed on the second tab (ANATOMY) since discussions with employees showed they were more interested in how to deal with their pain than in the underlying anatomy.

However, not all business goals were pushed to the secondary tab; in the original project, all employees had to display their knowledge by completing a quiz. That quiz was included as the final card on the RISKS tab.

A video of the prototype is shown below. (On mobile, expand the video to view it at full screen.) 

The prototype was created using a total of 6 screens (Splash screen, Home, Knees, Back, Shoulders, Resources, Exercise Plans) with dynamic panels. 

Postscript

In retrospect, portions of the original deliverables were geared more towards making it easy for the supervisors to train their employees. Admittedly, the material may not have resonated with the affected audience and the mobile app may have been more appropriate (but only testing could tell!)