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Articles by Janusz M. Sowa

Category: Research article

article id 10355, category Research article
Grzegorz Szewczyk, Raffaele Spinelli, Natascia Magagnotti, Paweł Tylek, Janusz M. Sowa, Piotr Rudy, Dominika Gaj-Gielarowiec. (2020). The mental workload of harvester operators working in steep terrain conditions. Silva Fennica vol. 54 no. 3 article id 10355. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.10355
Keywords: logging; ergonomics; eye tracking; fatigue; gaze behaviour
Highlights: We analysed a harvester operator’s perception of his work environment as slope gradient increased; Increasingly difficult work conditions (steeper terrain) were reflected by increased eyeball activity; Fixation duration increased with slope gradient, while the duration of saccades was shorter; Variation of the eyeball movement cycles was also related to work difficulty caused by slope gradient.
Abstract | Full text in HTML | Full text in PDF | Author Info

The use of modern multi-functional forestry machines has already been associated with central nervous system fatigue induced by high mental workload. As these machines are being used under increasingly difficult terrain conditions, further knowledge is required on the expected aggravation of operators’ mental workload, so that suitable work/rest schedules can be developed. Within such a context, the aim of this study was to gauge aggravations of mental workload derived from increasing slope gradient. Measurements of eye activity were obtained from a representative harvester operator working in corridors with the following mean inclinations: 9%, 23% and 47%. The duration, frequency and trajectory of eye movements were used to determine the harvester operator’s mental workload, on the assumption that worsening work conditions would be reflected by increased eyeball activity. The number of fixations during the performance of all tasks increased with the increasing slope gradient. Similarly, fixation duration increased with slope gradient. The mean duration of saccades when working on a 23% slope was 5% shorter compared to work under a 9% gradient. A further significant shortening of saccade duration (~22%) occurred when working on a 47% slope. The good match between eye activity cycles and work cycles, visible especially on steep slopes, indicates that mental workload is related to work conditions. Overall, operating a forest harvester on steep slopes results in a greatly increased mental workload and calls for suitable rest schedules.

  • Szewczyk, University of Agriculture in Krakow; al. 29 Listopada 46, 31-425 Kraków, Poland E-mail: rlszewcz@cyf-kr.edu.pl (email)
  • Spinelli, National Research Council of Italy, Firenze, via Madonna del Piano, 10 50019 – Sesto Fiorentino, Italy E-mail: spinelli@ivalsa.cnr.it
  • Magagnotti, National Research Council of Italy, Firenze, via Madonna del Piano, 10 50019 – Sesto Fiorentino, Italy E-mail: natascia.magagnotti@ibe.cnr.it
  • Tylek, University of Agriculture in Krakow; al. 29 Listopada 46, 31-425 Kraków, Poland E-mail: rltylek@cyf-kr.edu.pl
  • Sowa, University of Agriculture in Krakow; al. 29 Listopada 46, 31-425 Kraków, Poland E-mail: janusz.sowa@urk.edu.pl
  • Rudy, State Forests, Biłgoraj Forest District, ul. Zamojska 96, 23-400 Biłgoraj, Poland E-mail: rudy.piotrek@o2.pl
  • Gaj-Gielarowiec, State Forests, Barycz Forest District, Barycz 69, 26-200 Końskie, Poland E-mail: dominika.gaj@gmail.com

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