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Assessment of Physical Capacity and Job Demands

Assessment of Physical Capacity and Job Demands. Occupational Ergonomics Handbook Ch. 14 Louhevaara Ch. 70 Anderson Ch. 72 Key. Outline. Physical job demands and fitness firefighters, police, cleaners Physical ability testing analysis, protocol design Assessing functional capacities

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Assessment of Physical Capacity and Job Demands

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  1. Assessment of Physical Capacity and Job Demands • Occupational Ergonomics Handbook • Ch. 14 Louhevaara • Ch. 70 Anderson • Ch. 72 Key

  2. Outline • Physical job demands and fitness • firefighters, police, cleaners • Physical ability testing • analysis, protocol design • Assessing functional capacities • principles • outcomes

  3. Job Demands and Physical Fitness • Job demands include: • physical, mental and social loading factors • ~20 % of work force in industrialized countries exposed to heavy muscular work. •  in dynamic jobs with simple tools •  in static, repetitive tasks

  4. When job redesign is not feasible, physical fitness becomes important. • Control measures affecting muscular work performance through fitness are called secondary preventative measures: • individual health promotion • healthy satisfying lifestyle • maintaining work ability / healthy aging • fitness training • nutrition

  5. Triangle strategy for maintenance of worker ability (fig. 14.1): • work and environment • ergonomics, safety, hygiene • organizational culture • psychosocial, management issues • individual worker • fitness, satisfying lifestyle

  6. Physical Job Demands • Physical job demands can be classified as: 1.Heavy dynamic work (forestry, police, firefighters) • large muscle groups • cardiorespiratory strain •  with PPE 2. Manual materials handling (MMH) (factory, building) • dynamic/static work with large muscle groups • CV and muscular strain 3. Static postural work (electrical assembly) • large and small muscle groups (musculoskeletal strain) 4. Repetitive work (secretary) • small muscle groups (musculoskeletal strain)

  7. Physical work load is affected by use of strength, frequency of peak loads, work/rest cycles, environmental factors and work intensity. • The level of physical strain depends on job demands and individual capacity. • Acceptable physical job demands for different types of work depends on: • cardiovascular strain • musculoskeletal strain • psychosocial strain

  8. Acceptable job demands arises from the principle that there are individual differences for physical strain. • When physical job demands: • do not exceed capacity: adaptation (fast recovery) • too high: fatigue,  productivity (slow recovery) • prolonged / repetitive: injury/disease • Muscular work at the proper intensity, frequency and duration will produce fitness training effects.

  9. Physical Fitness • Dimensions of fitness (fig 14.3) • CV capacity (aerobic, anaerobic) • muscular performance (strength and endurance) • motor coordination (flexibility, balance) • motivation • Physical work capacity is based on physical fitness. • if the worker’s fitness and anthropometrics are in harmony with physical job demands the situation is acceptable • this situation is highly dynamic

  10. Fire Fighters • Lusa et. al 1994: • 200 subjects rated task demands for aerobic power, muscular performance and motor coordination • smoke diving with SCBA had greatest aerobic demand • clearing passages with heavy manual tools had the greatest muscular demand • roof operations require high motor control demand

  11. Aerobic Power Demand (Table 14.1) • common tasks require 2.1 - 2.8 L/min • work rates often reach 3.8 L/min • heart rates reach near maximal levels • compounded by heat stress • researchers recommend min 34-45 ml/min/kg • Fire fighter job demands can be extremely high, and place a serious cardiovascular strain on older individuals.

  12. Muscular Performance • biomechanical factors were evaluated • simulated clearing task, 9 kg power saw - floor to ceiling • high compression on L5/S1 (6228 N) • Minimum muscular performance values (Table 14.1). • Bench Press • Sit-up • Squat • Pull-up

  13. Police Officers • Hard to alter job demands. • The majority of work time can be sedentary. • There are unexpected peak load situations. • Many police officers become sedentary in middle age. • With an intensive fitness training program, officers reduced cardiovascular risk factors and  aerobic and muscular fitness. • Good selection criteria will guarantee an acceptable level of fitness for new officers. • After age 35 fitness should be tested regularly.

  14. Professional Cleaners • Very common physically demanding occupation. • The mean age is older than other professions. • Requires aerobic capacity, muscular performance and motor coordination. • Fitness level needs to be higher than average age-related values. • Physical fitness training will improve performance.

  15. Physical Exercise and Fitness • Physical exercise is essential for sustaining aerobic and muscular fitness, and is linked with good work performance regardless of the type of work. • Exercise has a positive effect on productivity, quality of work, absenteeism, and turnover rate. • A high level of physical fitness is important in sedentary jobs as it has a positive influence on mood. • Thus exercise is a basic element in the maintenance of work ability. • Physical exercise must be tailored to actual job demands.

  16. Before starting physical exercise it is important to perform an assessment of physical job demands: • Job load and hazard analysis • Measurement of heart rate • Estimation of energy expenditure • Rating of overall perceived exertion • Rating of local perceived exertion (back, arms)

  17. Successful work-site physical exercise interventions require: • commitment and support of management • commitment of the work unit • exercise during work time • feedback and strong motivation • positive experience with exercise • skillfull instruction • confidential, voluntary and no guilt

  18. Physical Ability Testing • Ch 70 - Anderson • Ergonomics attempts to alter the demands of the job to match the capabilities of the worker. • An alternative approach is to match workers to the job, based on physical abilities. • Several studies have documented the importance of physical ability testing. • Injury rates  20-40% when physical ability testing is implemented.

  19. The effectiveness of physical ability tests mainly depends on the ability of the test battery to assess what it intends.This requires: • a thorough job analysis • carefully chosen tests • validation that test predicts performance • Courts prefer that the emphasis be on the ability to perform the job rather than the risk of injury.

  20. Job Analysis • Identify the essential functions of the job. • usually the functions performed most frequently • infrequent function may also be essential • Cost / benefit analysis • if everyone can pass the test, why bother • cost of not being able to perform task • probability of individual lacking ability • balance with cost of testing applicants • Can a job function that is difficult to do be modified through ergonomics.

  21. Test Battery Design • Test required to have a high degree of job-relatedness to the essential function. • Use realistic cutoff scores and normative data. • Accurate: precisely measures attribute it says it measures. • Reliable:yields same results • over time and by different testers • objective rather than subjective tests • Safe: reduce the risk of injury.

  22. Validation • Statistical validation • prospective statistical analysis • test individuals when hired then track performance over career • measure productivity, retention, injury rate, supervisor evaluation • compare performance with test results • Content validation • demonstrate that the content of the job is reflected in the content of the test battery

  23. Ongoing Practices • Four aspects are crucial to assure that the test battery is fair to all applicants. 1. All applicants must be treated fairly. • same conditions 2. Same scoring process for everyone. 3. Same re-testing procedures 4. Take prior experience into consideration.

  24. Assessment of Worker Capacities • Chapt. 72 Key • Workers’ compensation costs can be staggering. • Knowledge of worker functional capacities is important for reducing workers’ compensation costs. • It is critical to know physical work capacity. • decision to hire • decision to return to work

  25. Functional Capacity Assessment(FCA) • return to work testing process that determines an individual’s physical functional work related capability • confirmation of meeting or not meeting minimum physical requirements • The goal of FCA is return to work ASAP. • even if at limited capacity, some pain

  26. Job Placement Assessment • Provides data prior to hiring • assists managers in making decisions • potential to reduce future injuries • JPA: specific, objective, standardized protocols followed to allow for accurate and repeatable results. • Identify an employees ability to: lift, carry, push, pull and do other job specific activities. • Goal: accurately match worker with job to increase productivity.

  27. Components of Assessment • Weighted capabilities • ability to perform a specific task • CV, posture • Tolerance and endurance parameters • sitting standing and workday tolerance • establish safe limits for work day • Validity of participant • determine if someone is being dishonest • less than we generally think (5%)

  28. Worker Assessment Principles • Principles for selecting FCA • must contain standards for identifying validity of participation • methodology must be consistent • utilize standard equipment • administrators must be trained and objective • processing of results must be standardized • Assessment reports should compare results with the demands of job. • unbiased and defendable decision about return to work

  29. The Provider • The provider of worker assessments are instrumental in  return to work percentages. • Physical and occupational therapists are the primary providers of worker assessments. • The therapist needs to provide objective, unbiased data.

  30. Outcomes • The primary outcomes of worker assessments: •  reinjury rates •  lapse of time before return to work •  incidents and cost of litigation • JPA can be very effective • fig 72-6: paper manufacturer • 70 employees • went from 530 to 28 lost work days • company saved $2,000,000

  31. Mobile assessments are cost effective and convenient for the employer and employee. • Large trucks can be used for mobile occupational health clinics. • convenient for remote sites • An onsite industrial therapist can be a very cost-effective way for a company to meet its needs. •  down time • prompt treatment

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