Research

Position paper on Musculoskeletal disorders

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA) last week released a position paper on Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) in which it states that while hazardous manual task training forms an important part of an employer's risk identification and control processes, it cannot be relied on to control the most common work-related injuries - musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) - partly because it does not address the multiple causes of these injuries, and the techniques taught are often ignored or impractical. This reflects the duties and the hierarchy of control in the Hazardous Manual Handling regulations.

The paper states:

Factors that are known to influence the development of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) involve a combination of physical as well as psychological and / or social (psychosocial) hazards. Their level of influence varies depending on the task and equipment involved, the way in which work is designed and organised, the workplace environment, communications and the worker profile.

Physical hazards include high force, awkward postures, repetition, long duration, fatigue and vibration. Psychosocial hazards include high job demands, low job control, high job strain, low social support, low job satisfaction and low job security. Personal characteristics such as age, pre-existing physical and psychological conditions may impact personal WMSD risk.

Consequently, the association recommends that a “holistic systems-based approach be taken to establish the workplace WMSD risk profile”. It says the risk management strategies need to be comprehensive and include identification and then control of physical and psychosocial hazards. Participation of workers and managers in the process is fundamental to ensure the process accurately captures the most relevant hazards and the controls are appropriate for the work.
Read more: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders resource page. The Position paper [pdf] and a short summary version [pdf] can be downloaded from this page. HFESA. Source: OHS Alert

 

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