Unit VIII Case Studyma2211
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Original article Scand J Work Environ Health 2015;41(2):111-123
How compatible are participatory ergonomics programs with occupational health and safety management systems? by Yazdani A, Neumann P, Imbeau D, Bigelow P, Pagell M, Theberge N, Hilbrecht M, Wells R
Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) often involves a participatory rrgonomics (PE) program. The paper compares the PE approach with occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). The PE literature did not speak to many elements of OHSMS. It is expected that paying attention to management system frameworks could make prevention of MSD activities more effective and sustainable.
Affiliation: Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada. [email protected]
Refers to the following text of the Journal: 2005;31(3):0
Key terms: ergonomics; management system; MSD; MSD prevention; musculoskeletal disorder; occupational health and safety; occupational health and safety management system; OHSAS 18001; OHSMS; OSH management system; participatory ergonomics; participatory ergonomics program; quality; risk assessment
This article in PubMed: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25380301
Scand J Work Environ Health 2015, vol 41, no 2 111
Original article Scand J Work Environ Health. 2015;41(2):111–123. doi:10.5271/sjweh.3467
How compatible are participatory ergonomics programs with occupational health and safety management systems? by Amin Yazdani, MSc,1, 2 W Patrick Neumann, PhD,3 Daniel Imbeau, PhD,4 Philip Bigelow, PhD,2, 5 Mark Pagell, PhD,6 Nancy Theberge, PhD,1, 2 Margo Hilbrecht, PhD,7 Richard Wells, PhD 1, 2
Yazdani A, Neumann WP, Imbeau D, Bigelow P, Pagell M, Theberge N, Hilbrecht M, Wells R. How compatible are participatory ergonomics programs with occupational health and safety management systems? Scand J Work Environ Health. 2015;41(2):111–123. doi:10.5271/sjweh.3467
Objectives Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a major cause of pain, disability, and costs. Prevention of MSD at work is frequently described in terms of implementing an ergonomics program, often a participatory ergonom- ics (PE) program. Most other workplace injury prevention activities take place under the umbrella of a formal or informal occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). This study assesses the similarities and differences between OHSMS and PE as such knowledge could help improve MSD prevention activities. Methods Using the internationally recognized Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS 18001), 21 OHSMS elements were extracted. In order to define PE operationally, we identified the 20 most frequently cited papers on PE and extracted content relevant to each of the OHSAS 18001 elements. Results The PE literature provided a substantial amount of detail on five elements: (i) hazard identification, risk assessment and determining controls; (ii) resources, roles, responsibility, accountability, and authority; (iii) competence, training and awareness; (iv) participation and consultation; and (v) performance measurement and monitoring. However, of the 21 OHSAS elements, the PE literature was silent on 8 and provided few details on 8 others. Conclusions The PE literature did not speak to many elements described in OHSMS and even when it did, the language used was often different. This may negatively affect the effectiveness and sustainability of PE initiatives within organizations. It is expected that paying attention to the approaches and language used in management system frameworks could make prevention of MSD activities more effective and sustainable.
Key terms MSD; MSD prevention; musculoskeletal disorder; OHSAS 18001; OHSMS; quality; risk assessment.
1 Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 2 Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD), Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 3 Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 4 Département de Mathématiques et de Génie Industriel, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada. 5 School of Public Health and Health Systems, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 6 Smurfit Graduate School of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 7 Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Correspondence to: Amin Yazdani, Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada. [E-mail: [email protected]]
Employers have a duty to anticipate, assess, and control a wide range of hazards in order to protect the health and safety of their workers. Many organizations have a busi- ness framework that they use to structure their prevention activities. If formalized, it could be considered an occupa- tional health and safety management system (OHSMS). Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a major cause of pain, disability, and costs to workers, employers, and soci- ety. It might be expected that MSD prevention activities
would draw on methods and approaches like the OHSMS. A forthcoming scoping review (Yazdani et al. Preven- tion of musculoskeletal disorders within management systems: A scoping review of practices, approaches, and techniques. Submitted to J Appl Ergonomics), however, found there was little information on how MSD preven- tion activities might be implemented within an OHSMS. Instead, MSD prevention was often described in terms of implementing a stand-alone ergonomics program, often
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a participatory ergonomics (PE) program. We wondered what challenges and barriers might exist when integrating MSD prevention into an OHSMS.
There is evidence of the effectiveness of both approaches. Robson and colleagues (1) conducted a systematic review of the effectiveness of mandatory and voluntary OHSMS interventions. They found that OHSMS interventions, in general, were effective in managing health and safety related issues. With respect to the effectiveness of PE programs, the systematic review of Rivilis and colleagues (2) concluded there was partial-to-moderate evidence that PE interventions have a positive impact on musculoskeletal symptoms, reducing injuries and workers’ compensation claims, and a reduction in lost days from work or sickness absence.
As part of a larger project on MSD prevention within management systems, we (Yazdani et al. Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders within management systems: A scoping review of practices, approaches, and techniques. Submitted to J Appl Ergonomics) found little informa- tion on how MSD prevention might fit into an OHSMS. Given this absence of information, the goal of this paper is to assess the compatibility of elements described in well-cited PE program literature – representing common practice in PE – with the requirements of an OHSMS. Specifically, this paper addresses the question: What are the similarities and differences between an OHSMS framework and PE?
Occupational health and safety management system
An OHSMS is a formalized framework for organi- zations to manage the health and safety of workers (3). A variety of OHSMS frameworks and guidelines have been developed [eg, the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS 18001) (4), Brit- ish Standard (BS) 8800 (5), and International Labor Organization guidelines (6)]. OHSAS 18001 was devel- oped in response to demands from organizations to assess their management systems against a recognizable OHSMS standard (4). Some countries, like Canada, have developed management system standards for occupa- tional health and safety (OHS) that closely parallel the frameworks described above (8). In Europe, the “OSH Framework Directive” (7) was developed to introduce measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. The Directive contains basic obligations for employers and workers to ensure the health and safety of workers. The directive includes general principles of prevention such as evaluating risks, adapting the work to the individual, adapting to techni- cal progress, developing a coherent overall prevention policy, and prioritizing collective protective measures (7). This framework has been implemented in some European countries such as Sweden.
The main characteristics of proactive OHS manage- ment systems that distinguish them from traditional OHS programs are their ability to be integrated into an organization’s other systems, such as quality manage- ment, and the incorporation continuous improvement elements (1). Such management systems are generally based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act model (9) of continu- ous improvement.
PE is an approach frequently advocated for MSD pre- vention and has been described simply as “practical ergonomics” or a way to improve problem solving. A myriad of PE approaches have been reported in the literature under multiple taxonomies (10–18). The term “ergonomics program” or “participative ergonomics pro- gram” is often used synonymously with MSD preven- tion. Unless we are quoting from papers, we will use the specific term, MSD prevention. We note however that participation in ergonomics activities has been reported as an approach in the design process and health and safety activities, as well as in prevention in general. This paper is restricted to health and safety activities only.
In order to assess the compatability of PE programs with OHSMS, it is necessary to describe each approach explicitly. For this purpose, we selected OHSAS 18001 (4) as it represents an internationally recognized, well- practiced approach to the management of health and safety in organizations.
Explicit definition of PE programs
We are not aware of a universally accepted definition of PE. Programs or processes are frequently described whereby cross-functional teams, with representation from stakeholders (eg, workers, management, and engi- neers) are recruited, trained in ergonomics, perform observations and analyses, and then suggest solutions. However, details and components differ considerably in the literature. Rather than selecting just one of the many definitions, we chose to develop a composite definition based upon the most frequently cited PE papers in the literature. We looked into publications included in van Eerd et al’s recent systematic review which sought literature that addressed context, barriers, and facilita- tors to the implementation of PE interventions in the workplace (19). They systematically searched multiple electronic databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINHAL, Business Source Premier, Risk Abstracts,
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CCINFOWeb, Ergonomics Abstracts Online, Scopus, ProQuest Digital Dissertations, Foreign Doctoral Dis- sertation, Index to Theses (Great Britain and Ireland), IDEAS and Canadian Institute for Scientific Information catalogue, Conference Papers Index, ISI Proceedings, PapersFirst, and ProceedingsFirst. They also searched relevant conference proceedings and reference lists. The authors included PE approaches that had attempted to improve workers’ health by changing work processes, work tools and equipment, and/or work and workplace organizations. Fifty-two documents (33 peer reviewed and 19 gray literature) met their review criteria (19). The authors used a large number of search terms in four broad areas including participation, ergonomics, inter- vention, and health outcome. The full list of search terms is available in Van Eerd et al (19). The selected papers were from multiple jurisdictions, but mainly Europe, Canada and the US.
We then used the Web of Science citation report tool to determine the total number of citations and average citations per year of each paper. This was performed in August 2012 and updated in October 2013. Papers with ≥10 citations since publication and an average citation rate of ≥1 citations per year were designated as “well- cited” and used as the basis for an inclusive definition of PE.
Framework for comparing OHSMS and PE
For OHSAS 18001 (4), a verbatim description of each element of an OHSMS was created from the document for short clauses. For longer clauses, the main ideas were summarized. These elements provided the headings by which the PE papers were analyzed. Two researchers read each well-cited paper on PE that met our inclusion criteria. Any text in each paper that was related to the elements of OHSAS 18001 was transcribed verbatim into an Excel spreadsheet. We used a content analysis approach to analyze the data extracted from the PE articles. Themes within each element were identified and papers contributing to that theme were noted. Topics related to the establishment and management of PE pro- grams that did not fit into the OHSAS 18001 elements were also noted.
Of the 52 articles reviewed by Van Eerd et al (19), 20 articles met the criteria for selection as a well-cited article (table 1). A total of 21 elements were identified within OHSAS 18001 (table 2). The results are pre- sented according to these OHSMS elements.
This element describes the scope of the OHSMS: enabling an organization to control its OHS risks and improve OHS performance. An OHSMS is intended to be applicable to any organization and address OHS issues. The PE programs described in well-cited articles were generally implemented at a department level within workplaces, but there was no information about the possibility of implementing a PE program within the entire workplace.
One article suggested that the scope of the “project” was identified after discussion of a number of trades and job tasks on the construction site (20). The purpose described was to address a specific issue, within a spe- cific workstation or department by a group of research- ers, and with the participation of different stakeholders within organizations. There are other examples of this type of strategy in the literature (10, 17, 21–25). Inter- estingly, only one paper implemented an “in-house continuous improvement” PE program in a public ser- vice agency (13). This could be considered as the sole attempt to enable an organization to control MSD risk factors within a continuous improvement framework.
OHSMS requirements (general)
None of the papers addressed this element. There were no recommendations regarding how organizations could maintain, and, more importantly, continuously improve their MSD prevention activities. There was no indication of requirements to be followed and the only indication of continuous improvement, as one of the main require- ments of OHSMS, was seen in the article noted in the previous section (13).
OHSMS requirements (OHS policy)
With respect to policy, only one paper reported that the the company’s health, safety and environment manager drafted the “Ergonomic Policy”, which was then revised by the joint labor-management committee (26).
Hazard identification, risk assessment, and determin- ing controls
This element was extensively described in most of the PE papers. Authors used one, or a combination of techniques. Table 3 summarizes the techniques and approaches reported in the well-cited papers to identify and control MSD risk factors.
Objectives and program(s)
Few of the papers partially addressed objectives, while apparently, in most of the PE papers, researchers deter-
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mined the objective before the start of the project (11). The objectives could be determined by having a group of stakeholders from different departments identify areas that require ergonomic improvement (17, 27), define a mission statement (17), followed by setting a timetable and appointing a person to oversee the follow-up. As reported in well-cited PE papers, proposed solutions should then be presented to the employer for final review and acceptance (27). In one paper, a “commitment con- tract” was used to indicate the objectives and time frame of the action plans (28). Similarly, another paper indi- cated that stakeholders should come to agreement on details about responsibilities and timelines, and then an ergonomist should contact the employer to arrange the implementation (29). One paper used a “product sheet” and an “ideas’ book”, followed by a meeting with man- agement and health and safety specialists to determine the objectives (30). Another paper suggested the company’s health, safety and environment manager draft the objec- tives which the joint labor-management committee would then revise (26). The reviewed articles implied that PE is a project- or intervention-based, relatively short-term process, and may not include continuous improvement.
Resources, roles, responsibility, accountability, authority
This element of OHSMS was partially addressed in many of the well-cited papers. The most common state- ment was that management commitment is required
for the program to be effective (31). With respect to resources, it was suggested that appropriate and ade- quate resources should be supplied to implement the PE program (11, 17) and that financial commitment should be sought from the organization’s chairman (32). It was also noted that an initial budget was given by manage- ment, followed by additional resources allocated by top management upon reviewing a progress report of improvement plans (21).
It was suggested that the president of the company (30) or a management representative appointed by top management (21) should lead the program or that an ergonomist should seek responsible parties for adjust- ment in the workplace (29). A commitment contract (28) or agreement (17, 27) was used to determine the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in the PE program, and involvement of individuals was voluntary (33). It was reported that working hours and personnel resources were made available after senior management became interested in the project (34). It was also reported that the company’s health, safety and environment manager drafted responsibilities which the joint labor-management committee then revised (26).
Competence, training and awareness
Training was regarded as a key element of PE approaches. One paper stated that training should focus on the development of effective skills for work-
Table 1. The total citations and average citations per year for the selected participatory ergonomics papers a.
Study Year Jurisdiction Industry b Total citation Average citations/year
Vink et al (10) 1995 Netherlands Public administration 40 2.11 Wilson (22) 1995 UK Manufacturing 26 1.37 Westlander (34) 1995 Sweden Wholesale trade, public administration 18 0.95 Bohr et al (11) 1997 USA Healthcare and social assistance 31 1.82 Halpern & Dawson (21) 1997 Western USA Manufacturing 30 1.76 Vink et al (23) 1997 Netherlands Construction 21 1.24 Laitinen et al (25) 1997 Finland Manufacturing 19 1.22 Haims & Carayon, (13) 1998 Wisconsin, USA Public administration 38 2.38 Rosecrance & Cook (24) 2000 USA Manufacturing, information & cultural industries 26 1.86 Loisel et al (27) 2001 Quebec, Canada Manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance,
other services (except public administration) 56 4.31
de Looze et al (35) 2001 Netherlands Manufacturing 25 1.92 de Jong & Vink, (30) 2002 Netherlands Construction 34 2.83 Anema et al (29) 2003 Netherlands Manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance,
accommodation and food services, other ser- vices (except public administration)
Hess et al (20) 2004 USA Not reported 24 2.40 Laing et al (17) 2005 Ontario, Canada Manufacturing 29 2.89 Lavoie-Tremblay (28) 2005 Quebec, Canada Construction, healthcare and social assistance 22 2.44 van der Molen (32) 2005 Netherlands Construction 19 2.11 Polanyi (26) 2005 Ontario, Canada Information and cultural industries 11 1.22 Rivilis et al (33) 2006 Ontario, Canada Other services (except public administration) 24 3.00 Burgess-Limerick et al (31) 2007 Australia Mining and oil and gas extraction 10 1.43
a The total number of citations and the average citations per year of each paper were obtained from the Web of Science citation report tool in August 2012, updated in October 2013.
b The industry type was extracted from a table presented by van Eerd et al (19).
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ing as a group (11). The duration of training in PE programs varied from a single training session (11, 25) to two sessions (27, 34), from 20 hours of train- ing (24) to a series of training sessions (17, 31, 33). The training was conducted through seminars (21, 25), workshops (31, 34), or during what was termed the “main meeting” (23). The training could then be followed by awareness education for other employees (21). Polanyi et al (26) reported that the comprehensive education and training program was conducted as part of a “Stop Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)” program and was reviewed on a regular basis.
With respect to training content, authors indicated this
included: an overview of ergonomics terminology (11), MSD risk factors and task analysis processes (11, 26, 31), use of techniques and a PE program description (17), physical work demand and remedies to control it (32), the PE process (27, 29) theory and methods (29), mechanism of injury associated with manual tasks (31), technical ergonomics for analysis and design committees (21), the importance of hierarchy of controls and general strategies for eliminating and controlling manual tasks injury risk (11), and information about the PE project to increase awareness thereof (23). However, authors indicated neither how they measured the effectiveness of training provided nor how the training could be sustainable and effective.
Table 2. Descriptions of elements of occupational health and safety management system based on the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS 18001). [OHS=occupational health & safety; OHSMS=occupational health and safety management system.]
OHSAS clause number
OHSMS elements Description
1 Scope The scope is enabling an organization of any size and sector to control its OHS risks and improve OHS performance.
4.1 OHSMS requirements (general)
The organization shall establish, document, implement, maintain and continually improve the OHSMS.
4.2 OHSMS requirements (OHS policy)
The organization’s top management shall define and authorize the organization’s OHS policy and outline specific necessities for the organization’s policy.
4.3.1 Hazard identification, risk assessment and determining controls
The organization shall establish, implement, and maintain a procedure(s) for the ongoing hazard identifi- cation, risk assessment, and determining of necessary controls.
4.3.2 Legal and other requirements
The organization shall establish, implement and maintain an up to date procedure(s) for identifying the legal and other OHS requirements that are applicable to it.
4.3.3 Objectives and program(s) The organization shall establish, implement and maintain documented and measurable OHS objectives, at relevant functions and levels within the organizations.
4.4.1 Resources, roles, responsibility, accountability, and authority
Top management shall take ultimate responsibility for OHSMS and demonstrate its commitment by en- suring available resources, defining roles, allocating responsibilities and accountabilities, and delegating authorities.
4.4.2 Competence, training and awareness
The organization shall ensure that any person(s) under its control performing tasks that can impact OHS are competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, or experience.
18.104.22.168 Communication The organization shall establish, implement, and maintain a procedure(s) for communication with rel- evant parties with regards to its health and safety hazards and OHSMS.
22.214.171.124 Participation and consultation
Appropriate involvement of workers in risk assessment and determining of controls, accident investiga- tion, development, and review of OHS policies and objectives shall be established, implemented, and maintained by necessary procedure(s).
4.4.4 Documentation The OHSAS 18001 suggests a set of documentation including policy, objectives, description of the scope of the OHSMS, main elements of the OHSMS, and OHSMS records.
4.4.5 Control of documents OHSMS documents need to be controlled by establishing, implementing, and maintaining required procedure(s).
4.4.6 Operational control Then the organization shall implement and maintain operational controls for those activities, controls related to purchased goods and equipment, controls related to contractors, etc.
4.4.7 Emergency preparedness and response
A procedure(s) to address potential emergency situations and respond to such situations shall be estab- lished, implemented, and maintained.
4.5.1 Performance measurement and monitoring
OHS performance shall be monitored and measured and provide for quantitative and qualitative mea- sures, monitoring the organization’s OHS objectives, and effectiveness of controls, proactive measures of performance.
4.5.2 Evaluation of compliance Compliance with applicable legal and other subscribed requirements shall be periodically evaluated and the organization shall establish, implement, and maintain a procedure(s) for this matter.
126.96.36.199 Incident investigation The organization shall establish, implement, and maintain a procedure(s) to record, investigate, and ana- lyze incidents in order to determine OHS deficiencies and other causal factors.
188.8.131.52 Non-conformity, corrective action and preventive action
In order to deal with actual and potential non-conformity(ies) and for taking corrective action and pre- vention action, the organization shall establish, implement, and maintain a procedure(s).
4.5.4 Control of records In order to demonstrate conformity to its OHSMS and OHSAS 18001 requirements, records shall be es- tablished and maintained.
4.5.5 Internal audit The organization shall ensure internal audits of the OHSMS are conducted at planned intervals with re- spect to specific criteria.
4.6 Management review Top management shall review the organization’s OHSMS at planned intervals to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness.
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Table 3. Hazard identification, risk assessment and determining controls. [OSHA=Occupational Safety and Health Agency; RULA=Rapid Upper Limb Assessment; NIOSH: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.]
Study Year …