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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 237: XI Workshop on Labour and Labour Management

PERCEPTUAL AND MENTAL WORKLOAD DURING SELECTION TASKS

Author:   D.H.A. Zegers
Abstract:
Agricultural products account for a substantial share in the total export, amounting to approx. 22.7% (value of 49.7 million guilders) contributing to the national income by some 5.1%. A product of good quality is a prerequisite for maintaining and strengthening this position. In agriculture, quality control has come to be a frequent activity, which is practised at many points in the production process. Questions that can be asked deal with control and inspection procedures, with material and immaterial costs, and whether the level of quality control can be raised, taking into account the availability and the workload on the persons involved.

The human factor in the agricultural selection process has not obtained much attention so far; hardly any research has been undertaken as to the substance of the job and the load on selectors. The problem area, however, is extensive (see Megaw, 1979; Harris, 1969; and others), and therefore clusters of possible influencing factors are discerned. Ergonomic research focuses on the selector. How does a person react to the (influencing) factors he is exposed to? Can any signals be observed that reveal information as to how the person functions internally and externally? Collecting this information is complicated.

The physical load can be expressed fairly well in e.g. oxygen consumption or heartrate frequency. The research into the possibilities of establishing the mental (psychological) load is still being worked at, so that unambiguous relations between loading factors and loads are lacking. To obtain at least some insight into the mental load, a derived parameter is used to establish this load. This can be done by analysing the nature and frequency of errors and the error pattern over the time.

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