Acute and planned transportations of patients are major tasks for emergency medical services (EMS) and often result in substantial physical strains with a major impact on the workers’ health, because current transportation aids cannot provide sufficient support, especially on stairs. A new stair-climbing and self-balancing approach (SEBARES) has been developed and its usability is evaluated in the context of this paper. Twelve participants operated a prototype in a transportation scenario and user forces, user joint angles and the perceived usability were evaluated. Results show that user forces were within long-term acceptable ergonomic limits for over 90% of the transportation time and a mainly healthy upright posture of the back could be maintained. This resulted in a healthy working posture for 85% of the time, according to the OWAS method, and a good perceived usability. A comparison to the most ergonomic aid according to literature, a caterpillar stair chair, reveals that similar upright postures are assumed, while the operation of SEBARES required only 47% of the forces to operate the caterpillar stair chair. A comparison to a previous field study indicates a reduction of strenuous working postures by a factor of three, which further confirms the ergonomic advantages of this concept.
© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.