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Body part discomfort scales


Citations  |  Evaluate postures  |  RULA  |  Stadiometer  |  EMGs

Nottingham sit/stand seating  |  Dr. E Nigel Corlett’s paintings


Corlett, E. N. & Bishop, R. P. (1976) A technique for measuring postural discomfort.
Ergonomics, 9, 175-182.

Corlett and Bishop’s (1976) body part discomfort scale is a subjective symptom survey tool that evaluates the respondent’s direct experience of discomfort at different body parts.

It may seem easy to take this scale for granted because it is internationally recognized and universally practiced.  Yet when the article came out, their approach was startling in its’ elegance, straight-forwardness and ease of use.

In contrast to traditional comfort surveys, they espoused the measures of discomfort.

It seems reasonable to consider "industrial comfort" as a concept, however, with a threshold level below which the operator would not be distracted from his work.

The measure of it would be levels of discomfort, judged on a scale or otherwise defined. The overall level of discomfort felt by the operator would be a summation of all the individual sensations via the various sense channels.

They reminded us that traditional comfort surveys are murky. What does comfort mean, anyway? If I’m comfortable and you’re comfortable, do we feel the same? Is it for the same reason?

Discomfort, on the other hand, is more specific. It helps bypass our biases and judgments and expectations that affect responses. It anchors users to their direct physical sensations by asking them to rate the amount of discomfort for each specific body part.

The Body Part Discomfort Survey Scale Ergonomics tool to study patterns of discomfort & pain. From Corlett and Bishop (1976)

Corlett and Bishop’s scale (1976)
Graphic with permission

How times have changed. Their scale didn’t include hand or wrist discomfort!

Corlett, E. N. & Bishop, R. P. (1976) A technique for measuring postural discomfort.
Ergonomics, 9, 175-182.

Body Part Discomfort cites (partial list)


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