Speaking at a Comcare webinar, prominent ergonomics researcher Professor Jodi Oakman has challenged the traditional approach to musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention, emphasizing the need to go beyond eliminating physical hazards.
Professor Oakman, from La Trobe University's Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors, highlights the multifaceted nature of MSD risks, underscoring the long-known fact that MSDs result from both physical (e.g., manual handling) and psychosocial factors.
While physical hazards can be categorized into a dozen factors, psychosocial hazards, including job design, working hours, and workplace culture, are far more extensive.
Addressing psychosocial factors in MSD prevention has lagged, with recent regulations coming into focus. The challenge is translating research into practice, where broader perspectives are crucial.
Rather than relying on eliminating physical hazards alone, recognizing the significance of psychosocial factors in MSD prevention is essential. Focusing on psychosocial hazards is likely to yield the most benefits, alongside addressing physical hazards.
Professor Oakman has encouraged employers to use tools like the APHIRM toolkit to manage both physical and psychosocial hazards effectively.