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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Assessment of biomechanical exposure to upper extremity musculoskeletal disorder risk factors in hospital laboratories

Jungkeun Park, Jon Boyer, Bryan Buchholz, Jamie Tessler, Laura Punnett, and The PHASE in Healthcare Research Team. Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854, 978-934-3269, Laura_Punnett@uml.edu

To characterize biomechanical exposure to musculoskeletal disorder risk factors in hospital laboratories, an exposure assessment study was conducted using a subset of observation data collected for a larger research study. The data subset was collected from laboratories in a single hospital in Massachusetts, using a revision of the PATH method (Buchholz et al., 1996). Key exposure variables included non-neutral upper extremity (UE) postures and the hand activity level (HAL) rating of motion speed and pause frequency (Latko et al., 1997). Two observers made over 2,165 observations, at 90-second intervals, of 24 work shifts (18 laboratory workers) over seven months. An exposure frequency (percent of observations) for each risk factor was estimated for each of the 24 observed work shifts. Each estimate was weighted by the total number of observations for each shift. The most frequent non-neutral UE postures were wrist/forearm (73% of observations) and hand (71%). The overall mean HAL was 4.7 on a 0 - 10 scale. Almost two-thirds (58%) of observations had HAL scores in the moderate range (3.3 - 6.7). Weighted mean shift exposure frequencies were markedly higher for pinch grip in hand activities with high median HAL scores. The study showed that markedly high exposure to postural strain for the distal UE and moderately high hand activity. Biomechanical exposures to non-neutral postures and repetitive hand motion can be significant in hospital laboratories. Such exposures should be assessed in relation to specific tasks and equipment design features in order to inform intervention efforts in the clinical laboratory.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Ergonomics, Occupational Health

Related Web page: www.uml.edu/phase

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

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Ergonomic exposures and socioeconomic status: Findings of the PHASE in Healthcare research project

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA