Worker profile: learning patterns for motor tasks

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Virginia Tech

This research demonstrates the feasibility of modifying a Predetermined Time Standard (PTS) to model a specific worker precisely and efficiently. The Worker Profile uses the results of a half hour of testing to algebraically modify each of the work elements in the PTS. The modified system can then be used with any job that has been described in the PTS. Specific performance times can be estimated for the modeled individual on each of the described jobs.

The traditional functional assessment techniques developed by medical, psychological and social care providers lack the quantitative precision of industrial engineering work descriptors. In addition to providing the rehabilitation engineer a usable assessment of the client's abilities the Worker Profile should aid in the sharing of information among the specialists on the rehabilitation team.

Unlike previous efforts directed at modeling disabled workers' abilities, this study individually modifies the elements used to describe unique, specific jobs. The element by element Worker Profile approach encourages proper job selection and work station modification. The model produces a Worker Profile which can be used to predict the worker's performance on any job for which an appropriate job standard has been written.

The Worker Profile Model offers the employer of assembly workers an opportunity to predict the performance of disabled workers on specific jobs without the expense and time required to train and test them on each available job. The model has several additional qualities including reduced assessment costs and extremely flexible application both in the performance of existing jobs and to the modification of jobs to optimize them to the disabled workers’ abilities.

In addition to extending the Worker Profile Model this study examined the effect of practice on the work behaviors of disabled workers. Practice has been observed to affect differentially the speed and accuracy of work elements among able-bodied workers. The effects of practice were previously undocumented for disabled workers. Examination of work element performance changes as learning occurred not only identified the locus of improvement in job performance, but also, illustrated a qualitative difference in learning patterns when a tactical improvement in work method occurred.