Occupational Ergonomics. Theory and Applications. Bhattacharya A, McGlothlin JD, eds., New York: Marcel Dekker, 1996 Apr; :329-349
This chapter was directed to those persons responsible for providing technical occupational ergonomics support but who lack formal training in ergonomics. The chapter described who is at risk, what risk factors are associated with work related injuries, methods of identifying and analyzing hazards, and methods of preventing work related injuries. A tremendous number of workers are routinely exposed to this hazard, many of whom will develop one or more serious work related musculoskeletal disorders during their working lifetimes. Manual materials handling activities that may increase a worker's risk of developing a musculoskeletal injury, include jobs involving manual lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying and jobs requiring awkward postures, prolonged sitting, or exposure to cyclic loading. There are personal risk factors, environmental risk factors, and job related risk factors to identify and lessen. In general, ergonomic assessment tools used to identify risk factors have been based on scientific studies that provide a relationship between sources of physical stress and the risk of musculoskeletal injury, particularly when those stressors exceed the physical capacity of the workers. Work performance, motivation, expectation, and fatigue tolerance are the various factors which influence the assessment of physical stress or human capacity. Physiological tables and models help find maximum acceptable forces to be used in specific types of tasks. Prevention and control of musculoskeletal system disorders from these tasks was discussed, with emphasis on workplace directed approaches such as automation, mechanical aids, and job modification through ergonomic design; and worker directed approaches including training and education, employee screening, and the use of personal protective equipment.