Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial Engineering

Major Professor

Dongjoon Kong

Committee Members

John Hungerford, Robert Ford, Susan Smith


Computer workstation ergonomics is well into its third decade of computer related injuries and disease. Numerous studies have been completed to inform the scientific and private communities of the threats that are posed when working at a computer. There are also multiple variables involved with attaining a computer related injury or disease, and any one of those variables, or a combination of those variables, may put a computer operator at risk. The purpose of this study was to develop a computer operator risk index (CORI), based on previous literature and containing risk variables approved by an expert panel, which is designed for relatively simple calculations. The four main risk variables were time, posture, stress, and environment.

This study used 100 participants (58 females and 42 males), with a mean age of 45.8 years from an age range of 20 to 64 years, who had worked at a computer for at least 1 year and worked at least three hours per day at the computer. Not only were females and males incorporated into this study, but four ethnic backgrounds as well.

Participants were asked to complete a demographic survey developed for this study, as well as a combined pain/discomfort rating chart adapted from Corlett and Bishops (1976) body chart and Borg’s (1970) CR-10 pain rating scale, a self-evaluating stress test, adapted from Yang’ (2003) self-evaluation stress test, and a Likert-type survey, which was part of the CORI form, concerning the computer operator’s work environment. The remaining sections of the CORI form were completed from observations of an expert analyst. Information contained in the demographic survey and the pain/discomfort chart was used to verify previous research that stated gender was considered a risk factor in computer operators for related illnesses or injuries. In this study Chi-Square tests showed no association (X2 = 0.036,p=0.85) in gender to show this to be true.

Data from the pain/discomfort chart was combined with data taken from the CORI form and found to show a significant difference with all four major risk variables. Time, posture, stress, and environmental measures at α=.05 , showed correlation (ρ<.05) with the pain measures.

Furthermore, the demographic survey contained data stating that some participants had been previously medically diagnosed with a computer related injury or disease and those participants, using Chi-Square testing, were compared to the results produced from the CORI equation and found to have a significant difference and high correlation (X2 = 6.683, p = .01) .

From the data retrieved and calculated in this study a logistic regression model was developed that provided the expert analyst with a means with which to measure risk to computer operators. This model included the four independent variables: time, posture, stress, and environment, which are also the four main sections of the CORI form. The CORI form is recommended for initial risk screening, but is not meant to be solely dependent upon in determining the risk of a computer operator...

There are several parts of this study that in themselves may be useful. The Pain/Discomfort Rating Scale may be used to discern between severity levels of pain for computer operators, the Self-Evaluation Stress test may be used to test stress levels of computer operators, and the Computer Operator Survey may be used to collect pertinent demographic information for employers.

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