Engineering Psychophysiology: Issues and Applications

By Richard W. Backs; Wolfram Boucsein | Go to book overview

Chapter 16
Stress and Health Risks in Repetitive Work and Supervisory Monitoring Work

Ulf Lundberg

Gunn Johansson1

Stockholm University

Assembly work and supervisory monitoring constitute two occupational activities essential to industrial production that represent different work conditions. For example, work on the assembly line of a car factory and process monitoring in a nuclear power plant differ in terms of demands for training and education, physical environments, consequences of human error, and so on. However, they also share a fundamental psychological characteristic in that both are associated with monotony ( Johansson, 1991).

Both types of work are undergoing considerable change. In postindustrial societies, assembly work in its classical sense ( Taylor, 1923) is being modified in order to allow more flexibility in production systems and more individual control and responsibility (e.g., Wall & Martin, 1987). Supervisory monitoring is being transformed by computerized control systems that tend to diminish requirements for activity by the operator and confine him or her to centralized control rooms at a distance from the actual production process.

This chapter reviews research on assembly work and other types of repetitive work, as well as supervisory monitoring using a psychobiological stress perspective. In analyzing these kinds of human activities, it is useful to distinguish between the stress perspective, which considers the total work environment

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1
Both authors are equally responsible for all parts of this chapter.

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