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WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation is an interdisciplinary, international journal which publishes high quality peer-reviewed manuscripts covering the entire scope of the occupation of work. The journal's subtitle has been deliberately laid out: The first goal is the prevention of illness, injury, and disability. When this goal is not achievable, the attention focuses on assessment to design client-centered intervention, rehabilitation, treatment, or controls that use scientific evidence to support best practice.
WORK occasionally publishes thematic issues, but in general, issues cover a wide range of topics such as ergonomic considerations with children, youth and students, the challenges facing an aging workforce, workplace violence, injury management, performing artists, ergonomic product evaluations, and the awareness of the political, cultural, and environmental determinants of health related to work.
Dr. Karen Jacobs, the founding editor, and her editorial board especially encourage the publication of research studies, clinical practice, case study reports, as well as personal narratives and critical reflections of lived work experiences (autoethnographic/autobiographic scholarship),
Sounding Board commentaries and
Speaking of Research articles which provide the foundation for better understanding research to facilitate knowledge dissemination.
Narrative Reflections on Occupational Transitions, a new column, is for persons who have successfully transitioned into, between, or out of occupations to tell their stories in a narrative form. With an internationally renowned editorial board,
WORK maintains high standards in the evaluation and publication of manuscripts. All manuscripts are reviewed expeditiously and published in a timely manner.
WORK prides itself on being an author-friendly journal.
WORK celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015.
*WORK is affiliated with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)* *WORK is endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA)* *WORK gives out the yearly Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award*
Abstract: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders associated with repetitive and strenuous working conditions continue to represent one of the biggest occupational problems in companies. Despite the variety of efforts to control them, including engineering design changes, organizational modifications and working methods training programs, work-related musculoskeletal disorders account for a huge amount of human suffering and economic costs to companies and to healthcare systems. This paper presents an ergonomic analysis tool, FAST ERGO_X, designed to support…ergonomic auditing activities related with work-related musculoskeletal disorders. This tool can be used to analyze workplaces regarding potential ergonomic risk factors. The FAST ERGO_X is a fuzzy expert system designed to help the identification, assessment and control of the risk factors present in the work system, due to lack of adequate ergonomics. Based on objective and subjective data, the system evaluates the risk factors that can lead to the development of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and presents the findings resulting from such evaluation. The system also presents recommendations to eliminate or at least reduce the risk factors present in the work situation under analysis.
Abstract: Employers are required under the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide qualified individuals with disabilities workplace accommodations if needed to enable their performance of essential job functions, maintain successful employment, and effectively contribute to the workforce and society. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and many federal courts recommend an "interactive process" between the employee and employer, to facilitate effective accommodations. Research demonstrates, however, that often the parties to the process are uncertain…of their roles and responsibilities. Similarly, court decisions have not uniformly clarified the specific requirements of the interactive process or alternate best practices to achieve an effective outcome. This article asserts that an occupational therapist with special training in ergonomics may make a significant contribution to identifying and implementing effective workplace accommodations, by mediating the interactive process between employer and employee. This unique role is illuminated by examination of the occupational therapist's professional expertise implementing a successful accommodation (case study) contrasted with an unsuccessful accommodation process that required litigation to resolve. Furthermore, we discuss the role of legal mediation principles in the occupational therapist's practice, suggesting ways to improve accommodation outcomes and avoid litigation. Recommendations for future research and practice are presented.
Abstract: Evaluations of participative ergonomics (PE) interventions have reported mixed results, potentially due to both program and theory deficits. In a multiple case study of four worksites in different companies using a quasi-experimental approach, we examined process, implementation, and effects. The process evaluation was based upon fieldwork and interviews with approximately 90 persons. Implemented changes were documented by PE teams and intensity judged by the research team. The effect evaluation was performed using…questionnaire-based measures (physical effort, influence, pain and potential confounders) among cohorts present both before and after the changes (N=258). Ergonomic change teams (ECTs) faced challenges securing employees' time, varying management commitment and significant production pressures. Nevertheless they actively introduced between 10 and 21 changes over 10–20 months of activity. Limited intensity of exposure reduction was observed, resulting in no discernible effects on physical effort or pain among the employees. Potential reasons that may account for limited effects and lessons for workplace parties, practitioners, and intervention researchers are discussed.
Keywords: Program evaluation, longitudinal study, musculoskeletal disorders, prevention and control
Abstract: Interventions to prevent musculoskeletal disorders by reducing mechanical exposures may range from equipment adjustments, through changing workstations and equipment or implementing administrative controls, to the design and redesign of work processes. Although generally positive, the literature reports mixed results for the effects of such workplace interventions on musculoskeletal disorders. We propose that an important factor which influences these results is the change intensity. This construct includes: the body part(s) affected, the size…of exposure magnitude reduction in the particular task or tasks involved in the change, the time fraction of the job to which the change applies, the coverage of the change (proportion of the workforce affected), and the adherence (if applicable) by the workforce to the change. The intensities of changes recently completed as part of a participatory ergonomics research program were characterized using this approach. Intensity scores were estimated based upon these parameters for peak and cumulative mechanical exposures. Changes affecting a production system re-design and re-configuration were judged to have medium to high intensity, while most other changes were judged to be of small intensity. Comparisons are made to the intensity of changes determined from reports in the published literature. Factors which maximize intensity as well as potential barriers to achieving higher intensities are described.
Keywords: Ergonomic intervention, musculoskeletal disorders, exposure, production system, participatory ergonomics, prevention and control
Abstract: This study investigated the effects of width of construction beams and single-hand load holding task conditions on nonlinear behavior of the foot center of pressure (COP) exerted on the beam. The foot COP, defined as the point of application of the result of vertical forces acting on the surface of foot support, was measured in the lateral direction under simulated standing task conditions. Twelve healthy male subjects were asked to hold a load of 6.8 kg…and 11.3 kg while standing on the elevated construction beams with widths of 10 and 22.5 cm (4 and 9 inches, respectively) under low and high foot separation (foot step). The results showed that both beam width and single-hand load carrying conditions had significant effects on the observed nonlinearity of the foot center of pressure exerted on the beam. Standing on the narrow beam resulted in higher level of chaotic behavior of COP compared to the wide beam condition. The nonlinearity of the COP exerted by the forward (left) foot was higher for the narrow beam condition. For both beams, the nonlinearity of the COP exerted by the forward (left) foot was consistently higher than the COP exerted by the backward (right) foot. Furthermore, for both beams, single-handed holding of the 11.3 kg load resulted in higher levels of COP nonlinearity than carrying 6.8 kg or no load at all. The study results indicate that nonlinear dynamics behavior of the forward foot under single-handed high load holding condition may be critical to preserving lateral stability during standing at the construction beams.
Keywords: Postural balance, center of pressure, standing on a beam, nonlinear dynamics
Abstract: Despite frequent use in industry, job rotation lacks robust confirmation as an effective method to limit exposure. This study investigated two tasks that involved the deltoid muscle. We examined two major factors in the context of muscle fatigue: the presence of rotation between tasks, and the order of task rotation if rotation was present. Participants performed four task combinations (coded AA, AB, BA, BB) of two tasks that were intended to produce fatigue (A: repetitive shoulder…flexion; B: repetitive shoulder abduction). All tested conditions resulted in lower maximum force production capability (mean range of 78–88% of original strength), in this order of decreasing magnitude: BB → AB → BA → AA, though differences between successive levels were not always significant. Specific muscle results supported this progression of strength decreases. For tasks with different muscular demands (AB and BA), it was less fatiguing to rotate between them than to only perform the more demanding task (BB). The order of rotation between tasks (AB vs. BA) did not influence muscle fatigue indicators. These findings help to assess the effectiveness of rotating between different tasks in reducing muscular fatigue or exposure. They also indicated a low apparent influence of task order on terminal fatigue characteristics for the task combinations evaluated.
Abstract: In the UK mountain rescues are carried out by highly trained volunteers in all weather conditions and at any time of the day/night. They interface with other services when they hand over the casualty to either land or air ambulances. The design of the stretcher is important to the safety of both the volunteers and casualties. This paper reports a usability trial to evaluate the features of mountain rescue stretchers and identify characteristics for future design.…Two mountain rescue teams in the English Lake District participated in a five week field experiment. Data were collected using postural analysis with Rapid Entire Body Analysis, Body Part Discomfort Surveys, Rated Perceived Exertion and focus groups to compare the performance of four stretchers: Split Thomas, Ferno Titan, MacInnes mark 6 and MacInnes mark 7. None of the stretchers had an overall advantage, with benefits for some features counterbalanced by disadvantages resulting from others. All the stretchers produced shoulder discomfort with the Split Thomas and MacInnes 6 lowering the postural risks through the use of skids/wheel in the carrying phase. The key design features for future MR stretchers include: reduced unloaded weight (e.g. light weight materials and mesh platforms); undercarriage system to reduce the carrying load; adjustable handles at the front and back positions; flexible carrying system with an optional harness attachment; ease of assembly in adverse environmental conditions; large carrying capacity. It is suggested that military emergency evacuation should be considered in addition to mountain rescue tasks to identify a larger commercial market for development.
Keywords: Manual handling, postural analysis, emergency care, stretcher design
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine if ratings of discomfort differ over time between two ergonomic chairs of the same approximate cost. Twenty participants from a metropolitan university sat on two types of ergonomic chairs for 90~minutes in each of two sessions while performing typing, reading, and writing tasks. Repeated measures three-way and two-way analyses of variance were used to examine the effect of the ergonomic chair design on rating of discomfort. Data were…collected using the General Comfort Rating Scale (GCRS) and the Body Part Discomfort Rating Scale (BPDRS), which were administered at 0, 30, 60, and 90~minute marks of each session. The results revealed: 1) discomfort was not related to the type of chair, 2) discomfort increased over time, 3) discomfort was influenced by the task performed while sitting, 4) discomfort level decreased when switching between different chairs, and 5) most discomfort was reported in the low back and lower arms.
Abstract: Many factors influence the performance at the workplace. The immediate interface between the user and the equipment is, perhaps, the most important. Hence, the arrangements of the seat and work point are critical. Factors which cause discomfort and injury to seated workers are described and, from the behaviour of the spine under load, a better seat design is presented. Its use by a wide variety of workers makes it necessary to introduce increased adjustability, beyond that normally part of…conventional seat design. The application of the new design in two cases in industry, as well as its introduction in schools, is briefly covered.
Keywords: Seating, Spinal load, fatigue, work loads