Conducting an ergonomic risk assessment is a basic element of an ergonomic management system. Your ergonomic improvement efforts will never get off the ground without being able to effectively assess job tasks in your workplace for work-related musculoskeletal disorder or WMSD risk factors. WMSDs affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons. Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for WMSDs increases a worker's risk of injury.
Work-related MSDs can be prevented. Ergonomics, i.e., fitting a job to a person, helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs. Systematically conducting ergonomic risk assessments (i.e., Rapid Entire Body Assessment, Rapid Upper Limb Assessment, National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health Recommended Weight Limit) gives you a clear view of the risks present in your workplace. This will allow you to effectively communicate, prioritize and implement workplace improvements. Because ergonomic risk assessments are the backbone of the ergonomics improvement process, it’s important to be effective and efficient with your assessments.
For more information on this topic or to ask a question related to safety and health, please contact John A. Frazer, Ph.D., CSP.