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Checklists Can Effectively Assess Work-Related Risk of Musculoskeletal Injuries

Recommendations for Ergonomic Practitioners Published in WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation

October 11, 2012
A new paper by Thomas J. Albin, PE, CPE, of High Plains Engineering Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, confirms that observational assessment tools, often called checklists, used to assess risk factors such as wrist extension and motion repetition, can be valid tools in identifying work-related risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries. Published in WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation, Albin presents a comprehensive, multi-step yet simple approach for improving the use and effectiveness of checklists.

Previous scholarship regarding the reliability and validity of checklists is limited and sometimes contradictory. Some critics suggest that checklists may overestimate the presence of risk factors and others have questioned their reliability. In this paper, Albin presents a well-founded approach that an ergonomics practitioner can use to dynamically measure the reliability and validity of checklists that he or she uses in order to be sure that they are effective tools.

Traditionally the reliability of a checklist is based on correlating two ratings of the same job performed by a single evaluator or by assessing the agreement of the ratings given to a job by a group of evaluators. Albin argues that alternate methods of assessing consistency are equally appropriate, for example, the use statistical process control tools such as control charts.

Albin also questions how well un-validated checklists serve as a tool to put resources against an at-risk job. “If you have to persuade a manager to release resources to remediate a high-risk job based on checklist findings, what assurance can you give that you are committing limited resources to the appropriate job or jobs?” Albin said.

Albin recommends a thorough yet concise approach for assessing a checklist’s predictive quality. Using the basic information gathered from analyzing jobs with a checklist, the practitioner can construct a 2 x 2 statistical table that serves as the basis for probability calculations, which ultimately yield the probability that at-risk jobs are correctly identified. He also discusses testing the significance of differences between alternate forms of a checklist, fine-tuning checklists, generalizing findings to new situations, and assessing the relative importance of risk factors to the identification of the problem job.

The paper, “Measuring the Validity and Reliability of Ergonomic Checklists,” by Thomas J. Albin, has been made freely available at http://iospress.metapress.com/content/v22040146v41l810/fulltext.pdf.

 

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NOTES FOR EDITORS

“Measuring the Validity and Reliability of Ergonomic Checklists,” by Thomas J. Albin.  WORK 43(3) (2012), pp. 381-385. DOI 10.3233/WOR-2012-1464. Published by IOS Press.

Journalists wishing to interview the author should contact Thomas J. Albin, High Plains Engineering Services, at talbinus@comcast.net.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation is an interdisciplinary, international journal that publishes high-quality peer-reviewed articles covering the entire scope of the occupation of work. The journal’s subtitle has been deliberately laid out: The first goal is the prevention of illness, injury, and disability. When this goal is not achievable, the attention focuses on assessment to design client-centered intervention, rehabilitation, treatment, or controls that use scientific evidence to support best practice. Issues cover a wide range of topics such as ergonomic considerations with children, youth and students, the challenges facing an aging workforce, workplace violence, injury management, performing artists, ergonomic product evaluations, and the awareness of the political, cultural, and environmental determinants of health related to work. Occupational therapist, Dr. Karen Jacobs is the founding editor-in-chief of WORK.

WORK is affiliated with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) and is endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA). www.iospress.nl/journal/work

ABOUT IOS PRESS

Commencing its publishing activities in 1987, IOS Press (www.iospress.nl) serves the information needs of scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now (co-)publishes over 100 international journals and about 120 book titles each year on subjects ranging from computer sciences and mathematics to medicine and the natural sciences.

All journals are available electronically and an ebook platform was launched in 2005.

Headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the USA, Germany, India and China, IOS Press has established several strategic co-publishing initiatives. Notable acquisitions included Delft University Press in 2005 and Millpress Science Publishers in 2008.

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