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Assessment and design of industrial manual handling to reduce physical ergonomics hazards: – use and development of assessment tools
KTH, School of Technology and Health (STH), Health Systems Engineering, Ergonomics. (Ergonomics)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5979-5504
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Despite efforts of reducing harmful physical ergonomics exposures related to manual handling, the occurrence of heavy or repetitive manual handling, and non-neutral postures is high in many occupational sectors. To reduce these exposures, interventions and job design strategies can utilize risk assessment. A need was identified of an observation-based tool which supported occupational health and safety practitioners for assessments of risk factors related to manual handling.

The aim of this thesis was to explore the use and important usability-related aspects of observation-based assessment tools among professional ergonomists, and to develop new research based assessment and screening tools, to present their scientific basis and to evaluate their reliability and usability. A web-based questionnaire was employed to gain knowledge on the use and usability aspects of risk assessment tools among ergonomists in Sweden. The assessment tools RAMP I and RAMP II were developed in an iterative process, including literature searches, expert group judgments, and with input from more than 80 practitioners. The reliability and usability evaluations included assessments and ratings by practitioners.

The thesis points to a low use of several internationally spread assessment tools among Swedish ergonomists, and a relatively higher use of tools promoted by the Swedish Work Environment Authority. Several usability-related aspects were identified as important, such as being easy and quick to use, its ability to communicate and visualize the results, and its ability to facilitate improvement measures. The developed tools support assessment of a broad range of risk factors related to manual handling. The thesis supports that assessments with acceptable reliability can be achieved for the majority of items of the two developed tools. The thesis supports that the tools are usable in supporting risk assessments targeting risk factors related to industrial manual handling.

Abstract [sv]

Trots ansträngningar för att minska belastningsergonomiska exponeringar relaterade till manuell hantering är förekomsten av exponering av riskkällor såsom tung eller repetitiv manuell hantering, obekväma arbetsställningar, hand–armvibrationer och helkroppsvibration omfattande inom flera sektorer. Dessa belastningsergonomiska exponeringar tros i betydande utsträckning bidra till en stor andel av arbetsrelaterade muskuloskeletala besvär och arbetssjukdomar inom flera sektorer som exempelvis tillverkningsindustrin. Riskbedömningar kan användas inom det förebyggande arbetet kopplat till interventioner eller arbetsutformning för att minska dessa skadliga exponeringar (risk faktorer), vilket även är ett krav om arbetet innefattar manuell hantering eller andra riskkällor. Trots det stora antalet observationsbaserade bedömningsverktyg utvecklade för att stödja riskbedömningar av arbete som innefattar manuell hantering identifierades ett behov av ett nytt observationsbaserat bedömningsverktyg som stödjer praktiker i utförliga bedömningar av flertalet riskfaktorer relaterade till manuell hantering och som ger stöd i det systematiska arbetsmiljöarbetet.

Syftet med avhandlingen är att utforska användningen av, och viktiga användbarhetsrelaterade aspekter av observationsbaserade bedömningsverktyg bland professionella ergonomer som arbetar i Sverige. Dessutom är syftet även att utveckla nya forskningsbaserade screeningverktyg och bedömningsverktyg, presentera deras forskningsbas samt att utvärdera deras reliabilitet och användbarhet.

En webbaserad enkät användes för att inhämta kunskap om i vilken omfattning dessa verktyg används av professionella ergonomer och vilka användbarhetsrelaterade aspekter som ansågs särskilt betydelsefulla för dessa verktyg. För att utveckla de nya verktygen (dvs. RAMP I och RAMP II) genomfördes litteratursökningar för att identifiera kvantitativt beskrivna riskfaktorer relaterade till manuell hantering och betydelsefulla faktorer som påverkar arbetstagares kapacitet vid manuell hantering. Verktygen utvecklades i en iterativ process med input från mer 80 praktiker, varav mer än 30 professionella ergonomer, samt expertgruppsbedömning. De två verktygen utvärderades med avseende deras interbedömarreliabilitet utifrån bedömningar genomförda av ergonomer och ingenjörer/tekniker utifrån videofilmade arbeten inom industriell manuell hantering. Verktygens användbarhet utvärderas av 20 praktiker med en pappersenkät och verktygens ’användarvänlighet’ av 22 ergonomer.

Avhandlingen pekar på en relativt låg proportionell användning av flera internationellt spridda bedömningsverktyg bland professionella ergonomer som arbetar i Sverige, och en relativt hög proportionell användning av bedömningsverktyg som stöds av Arbetsmiljöverket. Flera användbarhetsrelaterade aspekter identifierades som betydelsefulla bland ergonomerna, i synnerhet betydelsen av att bedömningsverktygen är enkla och snabba att använda, deras förmåga att kommunicera och visualisera resultatet av bedömningar, och deras förmåga att stödja åtgärdsarbetet. Det utvecklade screeningverktyget och bedömningsverktyget stödjer bedömning av flertalet riskfaktorer relaterade till industriell manual hantering. Avhandling ger stöd att majoriteten av verktygens bedömningspunkter har acceptabel interbedömarreliabilitet och förbättringsområden för verktygen har identifierats. Avhandling ger stöd att de två utvecklade verktygen är användbara vid riskbedömningar av belastningsergonomiska riskfaktorer relaterade till industriell manual hantering.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2017. , 68 p.
Series
ISRN/KTH/STH/2017:7-SE, ISSN ISSN 1653-3836 ; TRITA-STH Report 2017:7
Keyword [en]
Ergonomics, Human Factors, Risk Assessment, Hazard Assessment, Screening, Observation, the RAMP tool, Design, Lifting, Pushing, Pulling, Postures, Usability, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Ergonomists, Evaluation, Reliability.
Keyword [sv]
Ergonomi, Human Factors, Manuell Hantering, Riskbedömningar, Screening, Observation, RAMP verktyget, Design, Lyft, Skjuta, Dra, Arbetsställningar, Användbarhet, Belastningsbesvär, Ergonomer, Utvärdering, Reliabilitet.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Technology and Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-206951ISBN: 978-91-7729-423-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-206951DiVA: diva2:1094542
Public defence
2017-06-07, Room T1 (Emmy Rappesalen), Hälsovägen 11C, Huddinge, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20170510

Available from: 2017-05-10 Created: 2017-05-10 Last updated: 2017-05-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The use of specific observation-based risk-assessment tools among professional ergonomists
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The use of specific observation-based risk-assessment tools among professional ergonomists
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Several observation-based risk-assessment tools have been developed in recent decades. However, studies reporting their use, the context in which they are used, and reasons for using them are scarce. The aims of the present study were to investigate the knowledge and use of observation-based risk-assessment tools and their usability and to explore the processes of assignments that include assessment of physical exposures. A web-based questionnaire (n=70) was combined with semi-structured interviews (n=12). The survey showed a limited use of several widely spread tools e.g. the NIOSH lifting equation, RULA and OWAS. The interviews revealed that the ergonomists mainly performed risk assessments based on their own expertise. Assignments were often initiated reactively, after identification of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and seldom evaluated. The type of OHS organization and its relation to the client company seems to affect the opportunities for ergonomists to work proactively with risk assessment.

National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-206954 (URN)
Note

QC 20170510

Available from: 2017-05-10 Created: 2017-05-10 Last updated: 2017-05-10Bibliographically approved
2. Development and evaluation of RAMP I: a practitioner tool for screening for musculoskeletal disorder risk factors in manual handling
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development and evaluation of RAMP I: a practitioner tool for screening for musculoskeletal disorder risk factors in manual handling
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

RAMP I is a screening tool developed to support practitioners in screening for work-related musculoskeletal disorder risk factors related to manual handling. RAMP I, which is part of the RAMP tool, is based on research based studies combined with expert group judgments. More than 80 practitioners participated in the development of RAMP I. The tool constitutes of dichotomous assessment items grouped in seven categories. Acceptable reliability was found for a majority of the assessment items for 15 practitioners who were given 1h training. The usability evaluation points to RAMP I being usable for screening for musculoskeletal disorder risk factors, i.e., usable for assessing risks, usable as a decision base, has clear results, and the time needed for an assessment is acceptable. It is concluded that RAMP I is a valuable tool for practitioners.

National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-206959 (URN)
Note

QC 20170510

Available from: 2017-05-10 Created: 2017-05-10 Last updated: 2017-05-10Bibliographically approved
3. Pushing and pulling: an assessment tool for occupational health and safety practitioners
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pushing and pulling: an assessment tool for occupational health and safety practitioners
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, ISSN 1080-3548, E-ISSN 2376-9130, 1-13 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

A tool has been developed for supporting practitioners when assessing manual pushing and pulling operations based onan initiative by two global companies in the manufacturing industry. The aim of the tool is to support occupational healthand safety practitioners in risk assessment and risk management of pushing and pulling operations in the manufacturingand logistics industries. The tool is based on a nine-multiplier equation that includes a wide range of factors affecting anoperator’s health risk and capacity in pushing and pulling. These multipliers are based on psychophysical, physiological andbiomechanical studies in combination with judgments from an expert group consisting of senior researchers and ergonomists.In order to consider usability, more than 50 occupational health and safety practitioners (e.g., ergonomists, managers, safetyrepresentatives and production personnel) participated in the development of the tool. An evaluation by 22 ergonomistssupports that the push/pull tool is user friendly in general.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2016
Keyword
Manual Handling, Pushing, Pulling, Low Back Pain, LBP, LBD, MSD, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Risk Assessment, Risk Management, Ergonomics, Ergonomi, Human factors, Force Exertions, Psychophysics, Physiology, Simulation, OHS, OSH, safety, Occupational Health, Usability
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Industrial Engineering and Management; Production Engineering; Planning and Decision Analysis; Transport Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-198613 (URN)10.1080/10803548.2016.1258811 (DOI)2-s2.0-85006867704 (Scopus ID)
Funder
AFA Insurance, 090168Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 010-1563
Note

QC 20170426

Available from: 2016-12-19 Created: 2016-12-19 Last updated: 2017-05-10Bibliographically approved
4. Development and evaluation of RAMP II: a practitioner’s tool for assessing musculoskeletal disorder risk factors in industrial manual handling
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development and evaluation of RAMP II: a practitioner’s tool for assessing musculoskeletal disorder risk factors in industrial manual handling
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-206961 (URN)
Note

QC 20170510

Available from: 2017-05-10 Created: 2017-05-10 Last updated: 2017-05-10Bibliographically approved
5. Shifting to proactive risk management: Risk communication using the RAMP tool
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Shifting to proactive risk management: Risk communication using the RAMP tool
2016 (English)In: Agronomy Research, ISSN 1406-894X, Vol. 14, no 2, 513-524 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ergonomic risk factors are major contributors to work-related musculoskeletaldisorders and quality deficiencies in the manufacturing industry. Due to lack of tools or systemsthat can support a systematic risk management of these production and health related factors, anew risk management tool (RAMP) was developed. In this paper, the risk communication system(the Results module) of this tool is presented along with a description of its development. Anexample of how it can be used, based on assessments performed in industry, is given. Anevaluation of its usability, which included twenty practitioners active in the industry, givessupport to the notion that the system is usable both for risk communication and as a decision base.

Keyword
Risk assessment, risk reduction, manual handling, ergonomics.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-190042 (URN)2-s2.0-84969962346 (Scopus ID)
Funder
AFA Insurance, 090168
Note

QC 20160809

Available from: 2016-08-01 Created: 2016-08-01 Last updated: 2017-05-10Bibliographically approved

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