Support system for the assessment and intervention during the manual material handling training at the workplace: Contributions from the systematic observation

Mariona Portell, Anna M. Sene-Mir, M. Teresa Anguera, Gudberg K. Jonsson, José L. Losada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

13 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Portell, Sene-Mir, Anguera, Jonsson and Losada. Efficacy of classical manual material handling (MMH) training interventions on back pain prevention at the workplace has been called into question. The way that observation (self-observation or hetero-observation) is used in other areas to create feedback addressed to modify motor activities can justify innovative components for these interventions. However, their implementation and evaluation cannot be done without tackling the methodological challenge of developing a reliable observational instrument to measure manual handling practice during the training process. The aims of this study were: (1) justify and develop an hetero-observation (H-O) instrument to assess changes in the worker behavioral patterns with a level of analysis convenient to derive a parallel version for the systematic self-observation (S-O) during training on MMH; (2) provide evidence on the inter-rater reliability of the H-O instrument; (3) provide evidence on the usability of the S-O instrument and its perceived usefulness; and (4) provide evidence on the benefits that can be derived with the use of the H-O instrument to create feedback based on T-pattern and polar coordinate analysis. A mixed method approach mainly grounded on systematic observation was used. A convenience sample composed by blue-collar workers participated in the study. Based on literature review and expert opinion, the H-O instrument proposed was composed by six dimensions (feet, knee joints, back, elbow joints, load position, and interaction between back tilt and displacement) plus a structural dimension which defined MMH phases. The inter-rater reliability of this instrument was almost perfect for all dimensions using a tolerance level of 2 s (the range of time-unit kappa was from 0.93 to 0.97 and the range of event-based kappa was from 0.82 to 0.9). The usability and usefulness of the S-O instrument was highly valued by workers. Regarding the way to use hetero-observations to create feedback, the paper shows the great potential of T-pattern and polar coordinate analysis. The observational instruments developed combined with these techniques make it possible to characterize the body positions adopted during manual handling performance, and this is crucial to create feedback on performance instead of only feedback on results.
Original languageEnglish
Article number247
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Feedback
  • Health promotion in the workplace
  • Manual material handling
  • Mixed method approach
  • Polar coordinate analysis
  • Systematic observation
  • T-pattern analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Support system for the assessment and intervention during the manual material handling training at the workplace: Contributions from the systematic observation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this