Loughborough University
Thesis-2010-Punchihewa.pdf (2.37 MB)

The potential of Quality Function Deployment (QFD) in reducing work-related musculoskeletal disorders

Download (2.37 MB)
posted on 2010-11-12, 09:15 authored by Himan K.G. Punchihewa
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) frequently affect the health and well-being of workers and can hinder growth in the industrial sector. Research indicates that user requirements to reduce workplace risk factors for MSDs are not always effectively conveyed to practitioners of design. This creates a mismatch between these requirements and what is ultimately produced. Quality function deployment (QFD) is a structured collaborative design approach, widely used in industry. The aim of this research was to explore the potential of a QFD-based design tool to enhance such communication in the design process and help reduce work-related MSDs. In order to evaluate user knowledge and ability to identify workplace risks and the subsequent requirements for design, a multi-methods study was undertaken with cleaners (n= 10), joiners (n= 6) and plumbers (n= 6) and their line managers (n= 6). Methods included semi-structured interviews, task analysis, REBA and body part discomfort maps. The findings revealed that these workers were in general able to identify risks to their musculoskeletal health and make design suggestions related to specific tasks. All of the workers expressed concern about manual handling, and issues related to awkward postures were also identified by the majority. A QFD-based design tool (with guidance material) was then developed to facilitate communication in the design process. It consisted of six features to encompass the design process, and included tools and techniques with supplementary templates to aid practitioners. In order to evaluate its feasibility with respect to current practice, an online questionnaire survey was conducted with a cohort of practitioners of ergonomics and design (n= 32). Of these, the majority rated highly the importance of an integrated approach for participatory design to help reduce work-related MSDs. They also suggested elements to be included in the design tool, which were in congruence with the features already included. To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the design tool in the field setting, in-depth interviews using a walkthrough approach (n= 8) and case studies of specific work tasks (n= 3) were conducted with practitioners. The findings showed that the design tool would be very useful in managing and presenting design information. In particular, practitioners liked being provided with design principles to help systematically identify design solutions to reduce risks and using the QFD-based matrices to present such information. Limitations of the tool were identified as inadequacy of guidance, the lack of automated procedures and the time required to set up and learn. The design tool (and guidance material) seems to have potential in facilitating the sharing of design information among the stakeholders of the design process.



  • Design


© Himan K.G. Punchihewa

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

EThOS Persistent ID



  • en

Usage metrics

    Design Theses


    Ref. manager