Phase 1 – Scanning of state of the art solutions

Physical Training - Today (some) health and wellbeing-oriented companies offer their employees either the use of a gym or even provide the possibilities for other forms of exercising (e.g. aerobics). However, providing such facilities is very cost intensive and hence, only a small number of companies can, or is willing to offer these activities to their employees. Nevertheless, companies are getting aware that many health-related issues their older and more experienced employees are suffering from, could have been prevented if detected and addressed already at an early stage. However, since aerobics lessons and gyms are expensive, especially in bigger companies with a high number of employees, other ways of exercising must be found, including technologies for helping employees to perform small exercises on their own and receive adequate feedback.

Our challenge will be to investigate technologies, products and studies that can enhance the use of physical exercise and SOC(selecting, optimizing and compensating) strategies in the context of a variety of organizational factors.

Workplace Ergonomics - The key challenges are the scanning, dissemination and adoption of enhanced user-friendly solutions for continuous (both full working day, on the move and at home) posture monitoring from the side of the industry. This normally requires unobtrusiveness of the sensors and measurement circuitry. The unobtrusive design approach ensures end users’ comfort and empowers the users to use such a preventive monitoring device.

To this end, we will focus on technologies that encompass a set of passive and active motion detection sensors together with wearable dry bio-potential electrodes for development of unobtrusive wearable solutions for occupational posture monitoring and physiological parameters recording, including inertial measurement units (IMUs), heart rate variability (HRV) and muscle activity (EMG) during work time. Ideally, in the most appropriate technologies, the wearable form factor should be easily customizable for different occupational clothing depending on the target population and specific needs.

Nutritional Balance - According to the WHO many diseases of older adults and elderly are diet-affected. These diseases are, amongst others, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer, which are among the most common diseases affecting older persons. However, the WHO found out that only increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables by one or two servings per day could reduce the cardiovascular risk by 30%.

Offering an easy to use multi-modal interface, an individual nutrition schedule can be recommended and monitored. In addition, information about the nutrition schedule as well as unobtrusive reminders (e.g. ensuring the intake of the right amount of water) can be provided.

Stress Management - Job stress is a serious problem among older workers that leads to physical and psychological health conditions and, in a mid-term perspective, to early retirement. Aspects such as role clarity, job control/autonomy, adequate feedback from supervisors, and social support can strongly contribute to reduction of job stress and hence to increased wellbeing and health.

Our challenge will be to investigate the associations between workers’ physical health and the use of SOC strategies in the context of a variety of organizational factors (e.g. job characteristics and HRM practices), to be identified in close collaboration with the end-user (Groupe PSA) and leading to an initial baseline that will serve as basis for the selection and customization of solutions.

Phase 2 – Screening of identified solutions

Once the relevant technologies and methods were identified and the baseline is set, we will assess and select the best solutions for demonstration and dissemination towards the steel industry. The focus will be on technologies and methods that can be combined, integrated, and that are on a development level, which already allows direct use with minimum adaptations. The goal is to promote state of the art solutions that will enhance the wellbeing of older adults at their workplace. Our findings will serve for developing practical guidelines and interventions to support the development of ICT enabled prevention and management of older employees’ health and well-being in the workplace. These, in turn, will inform and enable changes in individuals (e.g. change in attitudes, personal strategies and experiences), organizations (e.g. change of strategic management practices and operations), and the wider society (e.g. change in attitudes, policy and legislation) that would ultimately have positive effects on older workers’ health and well-being, organizations’ performances, and for the national healthcare systems.

Phase 3 – Demonstration

Pilot Phase 1: For three months, five lead-users will be involved in qualitatively assessing the suitability of the selected technologies for the predefined goals, its ease-of-use and its influence on workplace and everyday behaviour, in order to achieve its integration and validation. The BETA phase will follow an exploratory approach to identifying crucial user needs, perceptions and the applicability of "wellbeing" in the everyday workplace of workers. To achieve this embedded evaluation, the prototype test phase will be conducted in-situ in a major automotive manufacturer, at PSA group plant in Mangualde, Portugal.

Pilot Phase 2: For 4 months (starting in parallel with the end of Phase 1), an improved prototype based on the outcomes of phase 1 will be tested with a larger sample of up 70 persons to address issues and requirements arising from scale (collective user problems). The PSA Mangualde environment is an ideal in-situ testing environment for the system as nearly 10% of the workforce will be involved in testing the system, thus creating a critical mass of users to evaluate group dynamics and influences on the informal organization of the system. The main objective of phase 2 is to: i) further improve the proposed technologies / solutions, especially in regard to the interactive functions and group dynamics arising from the larger set of persons using the system on a regularly basis; and ii) to assess the wellbeing impact on end-user’s physical and cognitive functionality, physical and psychological wellbeing (including locus of control), quality of work and quality of life.

Pilot Phase 3: The final phase will be the detailed evaluation of data and other results extracted from the pilots, that will run through the last 3 months of the project. Concerned partners will analyse feedbacks formulated by end-users and compare with initial baseline, and generate evaluation reports (insights, indicators, considerations) on the use of the solutions in the use-cases and the end-user’s opinion/satisfaction about the system

Phase 4 – Dissemination

The last decade has given birth to a wide range of solutions for collecting, sending, and storing data from nodes/edge devices to the cloud, that can provide the critical mass to turn these issues around. Our project will build on this to promote and test new solutions and will then disseminate it broadly towards the industry with the support of the European Federation for Welding, Joining and Cutting (EWF). As such, our project will extend the knowledge and understanding of the psycho-social and sociotechnical antecedents of older workers’ successful ageing in the workplace, with a particular focus on a range of person and environmental factors that have the highest impact on workers’ physical health and wellbeing.