Efforts to identify jobs or tasks having known risk factors for musculoskeletal problems can provide the groundwork for changes aimed at risk reduction. Even without clear medical evidence, screening jobs for musculoskeletal risk factors can offer a basis for early interventions.
An effective identification method is the Ergonomics Job Hazard Analysis which breaks a job into its various elements or actions, describes them, measures and quantifies the ergonomics risk factors inherent in the elements, identifies conditions contributing to the risk factors, and determines corrective measures.
Job analyses are usually done by persons with considerable experience and training in these areas. While most job analyses have common approaches, such as a focus on the same set of risk factors described above, no "standard" protocol exists for conducting a job analysis to assess ergonomic hazards.
Most job analyses have several common steps:
The tasks of most jobs can be described in terms of:
More definitive procedures for collecting information on these components can include the following:
Jobs associated with cases of musculoskeletal problems deserve the highest consideration in follow-up efforts to identify ergonomics risk factors and implement control actions. Jobs in which current cases have been identified should receive immediate attention, followed by those in which past records have noted a high incidence or severity of MSDs despite the lack of current cases.
Priority for job analysis and intervention should be given to those jobs:
Ratings of high or extreme levels of risk factors, especially occurring in combination, may indicate a need for control actions. While appearing last in the priority order, taking steps to reduce apparent risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders is an important proactive approach.
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