Improving the quality of life through a new approach aimed at controlling musculoskeletal disorders at work
Keywords:quality of life, accident analysis, musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), system analysis
In the past few decades, working systems have continually contributed to increased productivity; many innovations have drastically affected citizens’ quality of life. Science has played a dominant role in at least two ways: a) the appearance of new technologies increasing the possibilities for the end-users, and b) changing peoples’ working conditions. Changes in working conditions bring new risks. Whereas with wide-spread mechanization and manual work many accidents occur because of techno-mechanical and environmental factors, the more recently introduced work systems have given rise to psycho-somatic problems via sensory-mental load, risk perception, physical fatigue and muscle load. To reduce the undesirable human effects, more functions were allocated to the technical systems (automation/robotics) which resolved a series of evident problems, but that policy also created new risks for operators: alienation in the production process, cognitive load (vigilance, psycho-mental stress), machine paced work, repetitive work for smaller muscle groups and postural load. As long as there was a direct cause-effect relationship, protection strategies (individual as well as collective) were successful in reducing occupational injuries and diseases. But when the causal factors became unreliable and less predictable - as in the case of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) - the classic preventive measures failed completely. The main reasons for this failure lay in the fact that injuries due to labor accidents are immediate and obvious, whereas for MSD the effects on humans have a cumulate causal impact over longer periods. This fact necessitates a participative and risk-anticipating approach in which subjectively experienced pre-symptoms are corroborated by an objective quantification of the complaints.
Armstrong, T. J., Buckle, P., Fine, L. J., Hagberg, M., Jonsson, B., Kilbom, A., Kuorinka, I. A., & Viikari-Juntura, E. R. (1993). A conceptual model for work-related neck and upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders. Scand J Work Environ Health, 19, 73-84.
Bevan, S., Quadrello, T., McGee, R., Mahdon, M., Vavrovsky, A., & Barham, L. (2009). Fit for work? Musculoskeletal disorders in the European workforce. London: The Work Foundation.
Colombini, D., Occhipinti, E., Grieco, A., (2002). Risk assessment and management of repetitive movements and exertions of upper limbs: Job analysis, Ocra risk indices, prevention strategies and design principles. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Health and Safety Executive. (2009). Musculoskeletal disorders. Retrieved from http://www.hse.gov.uk/ statistics/cause-dis/musculoskeletal/ index.htm
Karlqvist L. K., Hagberg M., Koster M., Wenemark M., & Nell R. (1996). Musculoskeletal symptoms among computer-assisted design (CAD) operators and evaluation of a self-assessment questionnaire. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2, 85-94.
Kuorinka, I., Jonsson, B., Kilbom, A., Vinterberg, H., Biering-Sorensen, F., Andersson, G., & Jorgensen, K.(1987). Standardised Nordic questionnaires for the analysis of musculoskeletal symptoms. Applied Ergonomics, 18, 233-237.
McAtamney, L., & Corlett, E.N. (1993). RULA: A survey method for investigation of work-
related upper limb disorders. Applied Ergonomics, 24, 91-99.
Melhorn, J. M. (1998). Cumulative trauma disorders and repetitive strain injuries: The future. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 351, 107-126.
Ming, Z., Narhi, M., & Siivola, J. (2004). Neck and shoulder pain related to computer use. Pathophysiology, 11, 51-6.
Mital, A., Nicholson, A.S., & Ayoub, M.M. (1993). Manual handling assessment chart (MAC) tool. Retrieved from http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/mac/index.htm
National Research Council/Institute of Medicine. (2001) Musculoskeletal disorders and the workplace: Low back and upper extremities. Washington DC: National Academy Press.
OSH. (n.d.) Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the EU: Facts and figures. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2010, DOI: 10.2802/10952. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.
Selye, H. (1946) The general adaptation syndrome and the diseases of adaptation. Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology, 6, 117-231.
Rohmert, W. & Landau, K. (1979). Das Arbeitswisschenschaftliche Erhebungsverfahren zur Tätigkeitsanalyse – AET. Handbuch und Merkmahlheft. Bern: Hans Huber.
Steinberg, U., Behrendt, S., & Caffier, G. (2008). Key indicator method manual handling operations: Design and testing of a practical aid for assessing working conditions. Berlin: Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Abeitsmedizin.
Strambi F., Montoliu, M.A., & Vanwonterghem, K. (2009). Ergonomia - 3 Risks in SMEs. Romano di Lombardia: Moretti-Vitali Tecoprint, 155-165.
Vanwonterghem, K. Ergonomics and human factors: Methodological considerations about evidence-based design of work systems. (2009). In Slick C.M. (Ed.) Industrial engineering and ergonomics: visions, concepts, methods and tools. Germany: Springer. 155-165, 413-425.
Vanwonterghem, K. Musculoskeletal disorders risk assessment. (2010a) In Dyi-Yih M. Lin, Hsieh-Ching, Chen. (Eds.), Ergonomics for all (pp. 229-233). Leiden: CRC Press – Taylor & Francis Group.
Yoopat P., & Vanwonterghem, K. Biomechanical Risks in Thai Construction Workers. (2010b). In Dyi-Yih M. Lin, Hsieh-Ching, Chen (Eds.), Ergonomics for all (pp. 283-287). Leiden: CRC Press – Taylor & Francis Group.
Waters, T.R., Putz-Anderson, V., Garg, A. & Fine, L.J. (1993). Revised NIOSH equation for the design and evaluation of manual lifting tasks. Ergonomics, 36, 749-776.
Wilson, J. R. & Haines, H. M. Participatory ergonomics. (1997). In G. Salvendy (Ed.), Handbook of human factors and ergonomics (pp. 490-513). United States of America: John Wiley and Sons.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.