An essential activity in any ergonomics program is determining specific work locations and activities where physical demands place workers at increased risk of sustaining an overexertion injury. To do this, safety and health professionals rely on a variety of information sources to identify and prioritize opportunities for ergonomic interventions. As part of a 4-year project to reduce overexertion injuries in the service parts division of a major auto maker, a study was performed in 19 parts distribution centers to evaluate the contributions of the following information sources in identifying specific high-risk work locations and activities: (1) archival medical/injury records, (2) identification of “problem tasks” by plant-based ergonomic committees, (3) facility walk-through by experienced ergonomists, and (4) detailed ergonomic job analyses. Archival records were not particularly useful in identifying high-risk activities because essential exposure information (e.g., task, work location) was not documented. Walkthroughs and detailed ergonomic analyses were partially effective in identifying high-risk activities; however, in some cases the observation time was too short to observe peak exposures. Ergonomic committees were generally effective in identifying specific high-risk tasks and work locations. Rankings of “problem tasks” from multiple sites identified consensus division-wide ergonomic concerns. Detailed ergonomic job analyses confirmed that these tasks had high exposure to ergonomic risk factors. This study demonstrated potential pitfalls in relying on a single information source to identify work locations and activities that place workers at increased risk of overexertion injury.
- Job analysis
- Overexertion disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health