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The Effects of Manual Labor on the Cognitive Fatigue Experienced by Car Mechanics

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De La Salle University

Gokongwei College of Engineering

Industrial Engineering Department

[pic 1]

The Effects of Manual Labor On the Cognitive Fatigue Experienced by Car Mechanics

 Presented to:

 Dr. Jose Edgar Mutuc

Industrial Engineering Department

De La Salle University - Manila

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for


3rd Trimester, Academic Year  2017 - 2018

Submitted by:

Solis, Celine Marie

Tan, Anthony Daniel

August 15, 2018


        Car mechanics working in heavily exposed cognitive hazards are likely to have a higher probability of getting injured. Studies have been conducted that relate cognitive fatigue with the accomplishment of cognitive tasks and the relationship of physical exhaustion caused by doing manual labor. The objective of the study is to find the effects of manual labor on the cognitive fatigue experienced by car mechanics given research factors such as task switching, sleep deprivation, monetary incentives, working in pairs, shift work, and heart rate variability. The researchers made use of a quantitative experimental approach for the study. The NASA-TLX questionnaire was used to measure the mental workload experienced by the participants having done a certain task. Statistical analysis was used to evaluate the quantitative data gathered from the questionnaire.


Mental fatigue, manual labor, car mechanics, automobile service industry

  1. Introduction
  1. Background

With the increasing volume and complexity of automobile vehicles being released in the market, demand for car maintenance services grows as well. The automobile repair and maintenance industry, being one of the largest in the world, employ numerous workers which include service managers, repair technicians, and car mechanics. Given the vast amount of work the employees at the repair shop have to do throughout the day, the workers’ health must be taken into consideration to ensure quality customer service. Previous studies have investigated the different factors affecting the physical fatigue of workers while doing manual labor (Santos, 2016; Bannon, 2018). Aside from physical fatigue, cognitive fatigue must also be taken into consideration due to its effects on job performance and mental health. However, studies on cognitive fatigue have only been based on the execution of cognitive tasks, not performing manual labor (Yamada et. al, 2018; Rozand, 2015).

  1. Problem

Occupational safety of a mechanic is not only limited to accidental and physical hazards; the profession also experience cognitive hazards such as exposure to infrared and ultraviolet radiation, microwave and radiofrequency radiation, excessive noise, vibration, and temperatures (ILO, 2000). Health administrations such as OSHA generated standards as a measurement on the tolerance of a human body towards these occupational risk. These guideline will serve as an aid in seeking ways on mitigating hazards within the working environment of automobile workshops. According to Industrial Health (2011), 63% of workers experienced injuries mostly due to poor work environment, psycho-social stressors, machinery and tool handling. Above all this, they are knowledgeable of tools and machines used in servicing vehicles. The exposure to multiple cognitive stressors would increase the probability of an injury occurrence.

  1. Objective

Given this, the research will focus on discovering and discussing the different factors that affect mental stress as experienced by car mechanics in the Philippines. Moreover, the research will describe the characteristics defining car mechanics in the Philippine context. Upon discovery of the factors, recommendations aimed to target such factors will be given by the researchers. The objectives of the research are the following:

  • To discover the factors affecting the mental stress experienced by car mechanics in the Philippines
  • To assess the stress levels experienced by car mechanics in the Philippines
  • To identify prevalent strategies that can be done to improve the working environment of car mechanics in the Philippines
  • To suggest further in depth studies about the proposed methodology with a theoretical metric

  1.  Review of Related Literature
  1. Workload

        Workload is defined as the amount of effort produced by an operator in performing daily tasks that can be affected by external factors. Effort and external factors includes operator context such as physical & mental capabilities, training & task difficulty, fatigue, stress, temperature, personality, etc. Workload in general is a commonly used form of measurement to understand and determine to performance of a human operator (Rusnock & Borghetti, 2018).  

  1. Mental Workload

Mental workload is identified as both the mental development performance measurement and the obligatory performance amount (Hart and Staveland, 1988). It is divided into two main categories: mental strain and mental stress. According to Zhenhai and Da (2018), the mental stress is caused by the effects of external causes in the mind, whereas the mental strain is caused by the instantaneous aftermath of stress. Mental workload in car mechanics is discovered to be due to a number of heavy cognitive workload tasks such as bad working environment, improper sitting position, bad conditioned tools, seeking for the small items necessary for the job, delays, unforeseen situations, insufficient help from coworkers, and extended work hours.

  1. Monetary incentives

In cognitive psychology, an important distinction is drawn between extrinsic and intrinsic reward (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 2001). Extrinsic reward refers to the receipt of tangible items such as material and money for a specific activity while intrinsic reward refers to the rewarding experience of being informed about an achieved performance. Normally, incentives are used to boost the morale and productivity of workers in order to achieve short term company goals.

  1. Time of day (shifting)

        Shift work is an employment custom wherein different working times are established by an organization instead of the accustomed day shift (8am - 5pm). The business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines employs around 400,000 employees and most of these employees are shift workers (Lozano-Kuhne[a], 2012). It was found in a study by Vallieres in 2014 that shift workers often experience insomnia and have an impaired quality of life as compared to normal day shifters.



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