More precise limit values for ergonomic load could be a reality soon. This is the conclusion after around 1000 measurements of physical workload in 60+ occupations, executed by researchers at Occupational & Environmental Medicine South (Arbets- och miljömedicin Syd: AMM Syd).
Although a common cause of long-term sick leave is frequent or high physical workload, the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s regulations for physical workload are guidelines which do not dictate precise limit values.
Within other work environment related areas, such as chemicals, noise, vibration, etc., there are clear limit values, but since the rules regarding ergonomic load are vaguely formulated and based on assessment models, checklists and observations, these guidelines are of a more general nature. According to the AMM research report, the supervision and regulation of ergonomic workload therefore becomes an assessment that is not based on objective methods.
Since the 1990s, AMM researchers have carried out a large number of physical measurements of workloads, including postures, movements and muscular stress in exposed parts of the body of the workers. The consistently performed measurements have resulted in a proven relationship between physical workload and a number of disease states.
As a consequence of the research, authorities should be able to look at establishing clearer statutory limits, AMM Syd considers, and points out that clearer legislation provides greater opportunities for prevention of workload-related injuries.
In parallel, researchers in several research units are also working on developing simpler measurement and analysis methods for occupational health and safety representatives. The goal is that these new methods, together with clearer limit values, will simplify the use of physical ergonomic measurements in the systematic work environment assessments at workplaces, thereby preventing occupational injuries.
Source: Åtgärdsnivåer mot belastningsskada (Report)
(Action levels against load damage)
Occupational & Environmental Medicine South in Lund, Sweden
Occupational & Environmental Medicine South in Lund conducts research in a multidisciplinary environment to meet future problems in the work environment. The research projects are conducted in collaboration with the Department of Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology at Lund University, as well as Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Sociology and Work Science at the University of Gothenburg.