IOHA 2005. 6th International Scientific Conference of the International Occupational Hygiene Association, 19-23 September, 2005, Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province, South Africa. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2005 Sep; :144
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has conducted numerous ergonomic interventions to address exposure to occupational risk factors. Over the years, the Institute has developed expertise in how to conduct effective ergonomic interventions in the workplace. Initial identification of risk factors and subsequent injuries or illnesses is the first step in addressing the exposures. The quantification of symptoms or injuries and the development of incidence and prevalence rates help determine the magnitude of the problems within the workplace. The identification of occupational risk factors by occupation or job task, through instruments such as the ISO/TS 20646-1 "Ergonomic procedures for the improvement of local muscular workloads" and the NIOSH Revised Lifting Equation and the development of specific workplace risk exposure matrices help target where and for whom an intervention should be attempted. The quantification of risk exposure, such as number of pounds lifted per hour or number of hand movements per minute, is a critical component that can be used in evaluating the effectiveness of the interventions in reducing exposure to these risk factors. The development of alternative intervention strategies can be aided by the utilization of participatory ergonomics principles within the workplace to solicit ideas from those who know the work best. After a slate of viable alternatives is available, cost-effectiveness analysis can identify which one yields the best return on investment. Once the intervention has been implemented and fully accepted in the workplace, one can evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions by tracking reductions in injury incidence and severity, and worker symptoms. A cost-benefit analysis of the intervention can be performed to determine the associated effects on injury, absenteeism, productivity and quality. This paradigm for developing effective ergonomic interventions will be discussed in detail.