2012-08-01 12:00 - Messages

Body posture as an indicator of workload in mental work

OBJECTIVE: For this article, the relationships between body posture and workload for four mental tasks simulated on a computer were studied. BACKGROUND: Human behaviors are observable during work and are related to human mental activities. A novel supplementary method, based on human behavior but not directly related to task execution, is proposed to assess the workload in mental work situations. METHOD: Body posture was quantitatively analyzed with the use of a video-based analysis system. The distance between a participant's head and the display, the distance between the shoulder and the hip, and the trunk angle of the shoulder and the hip with respect to the gravitational field were calculated. RESULTS: The various tasks affected the distance between the head and the display (p < .001) and the trunk angle (p < .001).The distance between the head and the display decreased with increasing workload (p = .007). CONCLUSION: These results indicate that body posture can be used as an indicator for overall workload assessment. APPLICATION: The proposed method of workload may be useful for real-time observations or the monitoring of mental states in mental work environments (e.g., rail traffic dispatching, air traffic control).

Source : Qiu J, Helbig R. Body posture as an indicator of workload in mental work. Hum. Factors 2012; 54(4): 626-635. http://hfs.sagepub.com/content/54/4/626.full.pdf+html

The association between compensation and chronic disabling back pain

BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is a common and major health problem. Although it is known that psychosocial factors are important predictors of LBP outcome, some factors, including financial compensation, have not been fully studied in Japan. This cross-sectional study aimed to examine the association between LBP compensation (workers' compensation and automobile insurance claims) and lifetime experience of chronic LBP and back pain disability (chronic disabling LBP) in a Japanese adult population. METHODS: In February 2011, 1,063,083 adults aged 20-79 years registered as Internet research volunteers were invited to complete an online questionnaire. We analyzed the data from 52,650 respondents who had ever experienced LBP. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between LBP compensation and lifetime experience of chronic disabling LBP, adjusting for age, sex, smoking habits, educational level, cause of LBP, history of radiating pain below the knee, and history of low back surgery. RESULTS: Among the respondents, 2,039 (3.9 %) had experienced chronic disabling LBP. The prevalence of a history of receiving workers' compensation or automobile insurance claims was 1.1 % for each. In multiple logistic regression, the odds of chronic disabling LBP were significantly higher among those who received LBP-related compensation (workers' compensation or automobile insurance claims) compared with respondents who did not receive compensation. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of compensated LBP was low. However, a history of compensated LBP was significantly associated with experiencing chronic disabling LBP.

Source : The association between compensation and chronic disabling back pain. Fujii T, Matsudaira K, Oka H. J. Orthop. Sci. 2012; ePub. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00776-012-0282-0

An investigation into mechanical aids and automation for reducing the risks of repetitive handling tasks involving the upper limbs

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) produced a document (INDG 398[1]) that provides practical advice on mechanical aids that reduce the risk of heavy manual handling. However, there is little information on the mechanisation and automation available to reduce upper limb disorder risks that can arise with repetitive handling (ie handling light loads at least every few seconds). HSE guidance 'Upper limb disorders in the workplace' suggests a hierarchical approach to risk reduction and asks 'can machinery do the highly repetitive functions and leave more varied jobs for the workers?' However, no further information on this important risk reduction measure is provided. As such, it is difficult for HSE and Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) specialists to advise Inspectors and duty holders on whether mechanisation or automation is a reasonably practicable control option to reduce upper limb disorder risks.
The introduction of the ART tool has provided inspectors and duty holders with a risk assessment tool where tasks that predominately use the upper limbs can be assessed. This is likely to lead to an increased knowledge and awareness of ULD risk factors. However, there is little guidance for inspectors and duty holders regarding reasonably practicable control measures where the tasks are performed manually and there is no mechanisation or automation in place. The aim of this document is to provide practical examples of risk control measures used in industry.

Source : http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr939.pdf


Ergonomic design and training for preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck in adults

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck are one of the most common occupational disorders around the world. It is likely that addressing ergonomic factors, such as the design of workplace equipment or the environment, or both, as well as training workers in ergonomic principles may reduce the risk of workers developing these musculoskeletal disorders. This Cochrane review presents what we know from research about the effect of workplace ergonomic interventions for preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck.  We included 13 studies involving 2397 workers in this systematic review. We judged one study to have a low risk of bias. Four studies evaluated the effectiveness of ergonomically designed equipment, and four studies evaluated the effectiveness of breaks or reduced work hours in preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck. A further three studies evaluated the effectiveness of training in ergonomic principles and techniques, while one study evaluated this training in combination with ergonomically designed equipment and one study evaluated the effectiveness of a safe lifting intervention.

The results of this review suggest that the use of arm support together with an alternative mouse may prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the neck and shoulder but not those of the right upper limb. The use of arm support alone or alternative mouse alone is not effective. However, given there were multiple comparisons made involving a number of interventions and outcomes, more high-quality research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these interventions clearly. This review was not able to determine the effectiveness of other ergonomic interventions for preventing musculoskeletal disorder of the upper limb and neck.

Source : Hoe VCW, Urquhart DM, Kelsall HL, Sim MR. Ergonomic design and training for preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD008570.



Work Organization and Musculoskeletal Health: Clinical Findings From Immigrant Latino Poultry Processing and Other Manual Workers

Objective: To determine the potential role of differential exposure to work organization hazards in musculoskeletal disorders among immigrant Latino workers. Method: Self-reported work organization data were obtained from immigrant Latino workers in poultry processing and nonpoultry, manual occupations (N = 742). Clinical evaluations for epicondylitis, rotator cuff syndrome, and back pain were obtained from a subsample (n = 518). Results: Several work organization hazards (eg, low job control, high psychological demands) were elevated among poultry processing workers. Job control predicted epicondylitis (odds ratio [OR] = 0.77) and rotator cuff syndrome (OR = 0.79); psychological demand predicted rotator cuff syndrome (OR = 1.30) and back pain (OR = 1.24); awkward posture and repeated movements predicted all three outcomes; and management safety commitment predicted rotator cuff syndrome (OR = 1.65) and back pain (OR = 1.81). Discussion: Immigrant poultry processing workers are exposed to greater work organization hazards that may contribute to occupational health disparities.

Source: Grzywacz, J.G.; Arcury, T.A.; Mora, D. ; Anderson, A.M.; Chen, H.; Rosenbaum, D. A.; Schulz, M.R.; Quandt, S.A. Work Organization and Musculoskeletal Health: Clinical Findings From Immigrant Latino Poultry Processing and Other Manual Workers. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: August 2012 - Vol. - Issue 8 - p 995–1001.


Évaluation biomécanique des déterminants de la stabilité lombaire - Étude exploratoire

Les maux de dos affectent entre 58 % et 84 % des gens à un moment donné de leur vie, ce qui en fait le plus important problème de santé dans les pays industrialisés. Selon un rapport publié en 2008 par la CSST, les maux de dos représentent près de 30 % de l'ensemble des lésions professionnelles indemnisées. La région lombaire est touchée dans 60 % des cas des affections vertébrales survenues entre 2004 et 2007. Il devient donc impératif de développer des outils de mesure valides et fidèles permettant de quantifier la présence de déficiences ou d'incapacités associées à ces pathologies ainsi que des modalités efficaces de traitement afin de favoriser le retour au travail.

Ce projet de recherche vise à implanter et à évaluer trois mesures en relation avec le contrôle musculaire de la stabilité lombaire, à parfaire le protocole d'évaluation afin d'ajuster les paramètres des tests et à recueillir des données préliminaires pour de recherches futures. À la fin des travaux, les chercheurs auront établi un protocole d'évaluation réalisable en termes de difficulté des tâches et de tolérance par la clientèle visée, tout en offrant des mesures valides et reproductibles. Les mécanismes d'action mis en œuvre par différents programmes d'exercices qui seront mis en évidence par ces mesures feront l'objet de travaux futurs.
Source : Larivière, C.; Kearney, R.; Mecheri, H.; Ludvig, D.; Aboulfazl, S.-A.; Gagnon, D. Études et recherches / Rapport  R-742, Montréal, IRSST, 2012, 82 p.


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