The occupational ergonomics handbook. Karwowski W, Marras WS, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1999 Jan; :1189-1203
This chapter will address occupational surveillance as it relates to the practice of industrial ergonomics and the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Surveillance is a "continuous analysis, interpretation, and feedback of systematically collected data, generally using methods distinguished by their practicality, uniformity, and frequently their rapidity, rather than by their accuracy or completeness" (Last, 1995). Occupational surveillance provides the data needed to identify, control, and prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. Epidemiologists also use surveillance data to study "the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in defined populations." Methods for conducting occupationals surveillance programs are well documented, and reviews of surveillance concepts and methods have been presented elsewhere (Baker et al., 1989; Baker and Matte, 1994; Greife et al., 1995). This chapter will limit the discussion of surveillance to those issues that affect the work of the industrial ergonomist and the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.