An ergonomic expert system for risk assessment of work-related musculo-skeletal disorders

An ergonomic expert system for risk assessment of work-related musculo-skeletal disorders

Sonja Pavlovic-Veselinovic a, Alan Hedge b, *, Matija Veselinovic c
a Faculty of Occupational Safety, University of Nis, Serbia
b Cornell University, USA
c Faculty of Electronic Engineering, University of Nis, Serbia


A computer-based expert system (SONEX) was developed to identify ergonomic risks for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) in a wide variety of jobs and provide expert prevention advice. SONEX uses a rule base and 6 knowledge base modules: WRMSD risk factors are grouped into two main knowledge base modules (symptoms, engaged body part) with four supplementary knowledge base modules (work environment, work chair, work tools, organization factors). SONEX uses a menu-based interface and a series of simple questions that lead a user through each of the two main modules. Based on user responses it then recommends other knowledge base modules that are relevant for a detailed analysis of work risks. The SONEX rule base has over 140 questions, the knowledge base includes over 200 risk factors, and around 500 possible answers can be generated. SONEX relates ergonomic shortcomings in the job with worker's subjective symptoms; it predicts possible WRMSDs; and it offers preventive suggestions for ergonomic improvements to the job to prevent WRMSDs. It has been tested in a variety of work places with known ergonomic problems and with known employee WRMSDs by comparing its performance with conventional analytical methods and results show that it accurately predicts possible WRMSD risks and identifies ergonomic shortcomings. The advantages of SONEX are that it is much faster than other ergonomic analysis methods and it can be used by ergonomists and other professionals and also by workers themselves

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