Sei sulla pagina 1di 11

4

4 Things to Consider When Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

| www.humantech.com | 734.663.6707

Introducing
The Humantech System, an all-in-one solution for managing workplace ergonomics in industrial environments.

Learn more at

www.humantech.com/thesystem
Share this!
www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

Workplace injuries and illness cost companies billions of dollars each year, and their negative effects on health and safety, productivity, morale, and even quality can be astounding.

INTRODUCTION

Implementing strategies to reduce injuries and illness through a sound workplace ergonomics process can have a far-reaching impact on your business. And, managing the risk of injury, rather than managing the injury itself, is essential for a successful ergonomics process (see our previous e-book for more on this topic). But how do you know which ergonomic risk assessment(s) to use and when to use them? There are a multitude of ergonomic assessment tools available to practitioners ranging from very basic to the highly complex. In this publication, well give you tips on how to select the right tool to help ensure that your efforts produce an efficient, valid, reliable, and effective ergonomic analysis. We also invite you to download Humantechs assessment tool matrix, a quick-reference guide that focuses on some of the most commonly used assessment methods.

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

There are many ergonomic risk assessment tools and methods available today, both proprietary and in the public domain. They fall into two main categories: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative or observation-based methods are tools for identifying ergonomic issues. These checklists, pocket cards, and self-assessment tools are useful for engaging employees and supervisors to quickly find and fix observable problems in the workplace. Quantitative tools, on the other hand, are like risk dosimeters. They identify the presence of risk factors and measure the amount of exposure, and should compare the level of exposure to the capabilities of the human body. These more advanced tools provide a higher level of diagnosis and root cause analysis that the qualitative tools lack. While you need both qualitative and quantitative assessment tools in your toolkit, a successful ergonomics process is measured and managed by numbers. Therefore, you, as a subject matter expert, must focus on a quantitative approach. There are four characteristics to consider when selecting your quantitative ergonomic risk assessment tools for use in the workplace: quality, application, quantitative capability, and ease of use.

INTRODUCTION

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

The most important characteristic of a quantitative assessment tool is its quality. An effective and reliable quantitative assessment tool meets the following criteria:

1.

QUALITY

Valid. The tool must be able to measure what it is intended to measure. In short, it should be able to identify job factors that will result in musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Current scientific reference, based on occupational medicine, biomechanics, and longitudinal in situ studies, defines an MSD as an illness. The ergonomic risk factors known to contribute to MSDs are excessive force, excessive frequency, and extreme postures. To be valid, an ergonomic risk assessment tool must include limit values for force and frequency, and excessive ranges for posture. To verify validity, look for at least two independent research studies, reported by two independent refereed journals, for each value.

Early warning signs of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) Swelling Numbness Tingling Discomfort Burning Sensation Irritation Insomnia Stiffness

1 2 3 4

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

Able to differentiate job hazards. The tool should be able to differentiate hazards in two ways:

1.

differentiate jobs that evidence single risk factors, from jobs that evidence two risk factors, from jobs that evidence all risk factors.
Within jobs (intra-job differentiation). The tool must be able to

Between jobs (inter-job differentiation). The tool must be able to

QUALITY

differentiate risk factors within a job and differentiate between the body parts of the operators exposed to the risk. It should rank jobs by the number of hazard factors present and number of body parts affected.

Combining the inter- and intra-job differentiation factors will allow you to rank jobs from lower risk to higher risk. This ranking is an essential result of any quantitative risk assessment method.

1 2 3 4

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

1.

QUALITY

Reliable. The tool should obtain similar results at different times, all other factors being equal. The reliability of the tool is dependent upon the person using it. The assessor must follow the rules for correct use, and be aware of the limitations of use. To ensure reliability, the tool should provide clear definition of risk factors and the rules of application, and it should be supported by adequate training to ensure correct use by the assessor. Reproducible. Different assessors should obtain similar results independently, all other factors being equal. The reproducibility of results is dependent upon the assessors conformance to the rules of application. The same factors that ensure reliability also apply to reproducibility: definition of risk factors and application rules, as well as adequate training on how to use the tool correctly.

1 2 3 4

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

Know the scope of the assessment tool. Not all risk assessment tools measure all risk exposures to the body, and many have limitations to their use.

2.

APPLICATION

Humantechs Baseline Risk Identification of Ergonomic Factors (BRIEF) Survey and the Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) are whole-body assessment tools, while the RULA (Rapid Upper Limb Assessment) and the NIOSH Lifting Equation measure risk exposure for only specific areas of the body. Take time to understand the application and limitations of each. For example, the NIOSH Lifting Equation is limited to single-person, two-handed lifts.

1 2 3 4

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

QUANTITATIVE CapaBility

3.

The risk assessment tool should provide a valid numerical score indicating the level of risk exposure. Some assessors use narrative to describe the level of exposure; unfortunately, the result is subjective and can be interpreted in different ways. A quantitative measurement of risk relative to a threshold or limit for humans provides a reference point to determine if the exposure is above or below the capabilities of the human body. In turn, the range of scores can be easily translated into lower, moderate, and higher risk.

1 2 3 4
Humantech, Inc.

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

4.

In the workplace (as opposed to a research application), the ergonomic assessment tool and method should be easy to use, identify risk factors and root causes, and determine the level of exposure (measure) quickly. The method should not interrupt or negatively affect the person being assessed. This means it must be portable, and it should be easy to use in a clean room environment, chemical operation, office, and in the field. Ease of use also enables more people to be trained to conduct ergonomic assessments. This is especially critical if you are relying on an Ergonomics Team, Safety Committee, or others to conduct assessments.

EaSe oF USe

1 2 3 4

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com

4 Things to Consider when Selecting an Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool

ABout HuMantech

For over 30 years, global companies have relied on Humantech for workplace improvements. By combining the science of ergonomics and our unique 30-Inch Viewwhere people, work, and environment intersectwe deliver practical solutions that impact safety, quality, and productivity. At Humantech, we know people make productivity happen. Companies that make the move from a reactive approach to injuries to a proactive approach to workplace design, find that ergonomics is central to executing business strategy at the highest levels. Humantech helps companies identify and quantify injury risk in the workplace, provides training and consulting aimed at removing that risk, and delivers ergonomics program management solutions that embed these processes into a corporate culture. Please visit us at www.humantech.com for more information.

Copyright 2013 Humantech, Inc.

Share this!

www.humantech.com