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Worker Productivity | Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) Evaluation Measures

Worker productivity measures for WMSD prevention1-7

Healthier employees are less likely to call in sick. Companies can sometimes assess sick day use to determine whether health programs are increasing worker productivity.

Baseline

  • Determine the average number of sick days per employee over the previous 12 months related to musculoskeletal disorders
    • This measure may be less useful if there has been a large increase or decrease in numbers of employees over the past 12 months
  • Determine the costs of worker absenteeism related to WMSDs including costs of replacement workers, costs in training replacement workers, and loss and delay in productivity
  • Determine time employees spend during working hours participating in WMSD related worksite prevention programs
  • Additional validated surveys have been developed to provide employers with information about the indirect costs of untreated or undertreated employee health issues such as arthritis or back pain. Employers who use these health and productivity surveys on an ongoing basis can begin to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of offering WMSD prevention programs on employee absence or productivity. These surveys may be proprietary and may require a modest fee to use. Two examples are provided below:
    • Health and Work Performance Questionnaire (HPQ) is a short, easy to administer self-report survey designed to estimate workplace indirect costs (absenteeism, reduced productivity, and injury due to accidents) of employee health problems developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Harvard Medical School
    • The Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ) developed by the Health Institute at Tufts Medical Center is an easy to use questionnaire that addresses general work limitations which can be built into other health assessment tools such as a health risk appraisal or employee health survey

Process

  • Re-assess the average number of sick days per employee at the first follow-up evaluation
    • If employee education programs are successful such as ergonomics awareness, these measures may increase in the short term as screening and detection rates for WMSDs increase
  • Periodic repeats of baseline measures

Outcome

  • Assess changes in the average number of sick days per employee in repeated follow-up evaluations
  • Assess changes in costs from baseline (e.g., absenteeism)
  • Assess changes in time employees spend during working hours participating in WMSD related worksite prevention programs

References

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Framework for program evaluation in public health. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1999;48(No. RR-11): 1-40.

2.  Goetzel RZ, Ozminkowski RJ. Program evaluation. In: O’Donnell MP, editor. Health promotion in the workplace, 3rd edition. Albany, NY: Delmar Thomson Learning; 2002. p 116-165.

3.  Weeks JL, Levy BS, Wagner GR, editors. Preventing occupational disease and injury. 2nd ed. Washington DC: American Public Health Association; 2005.

4.  Kessler RC, Barber C, Beck A, Berglund P, Cleary PD, McKenas D, Pronk N, Simon G, Stang P, Ustun TB, Wang P. The World Health Organization Health and Work Performance Questionnaire (HPQ). J Occup Environ Med. 2003 Feb;45(2):156-174.

5.  Kessler RC, Ames M, Hymel PA, Loeppke R, McKenas DK, Richling DE, Stang PE, Ustun TB. Using the World Health Organization Health and Work Performance Questionnaire (HPQ) to evaluate the indirect workplace costs of illness. J Occup Environ Med. 2004 Jun;46(6 Suppl):S23-37.

6.  Wang PS, Beck A, Berglund P, Leutzinger JA, Pronk N, Richling D, Schenk TW, Simon G, Stang P, Ustun TB, Kessler RC. Chronic medical conditions and work performance in the health and work performance questionnaire calibration surveys. J Occup Environ Med. 2003 Dec;45(12):1303-1311.

7.  Lerner D, Amick BC 3rd, Rogers WH, Malspeis S, Bungay K, Cynn D. The Work Limitations Questionnaire. Med Care. 2001 Jan;39(1):72-85.

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