7 August 2023 posted by Recovery Partners

The Effectiveness of Workplace Musculoskeletal Injury Risk Factor Screening Tools for Reducing Injury: 
A Systematic Review.

Workplace musculoskeletal injuries are a significant issue in many industries worldwide, including Australia. These types of injuries can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and reduced quality of life for employees. One potential strategy for reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace is the use of screening tools to identify risk factors and implement preventative measures. This systematic review, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of workplace musculoskeletal injury risk factor screening tools.

MSK Tools

Here is a list of the tools reviewed in the research paper and the body part(s) they are associated with:

  • Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ) – multiple body parts
  • Standardized Nordic Questionnaire (SNQ) – multiple body parts
  • Quick Exposure Check (QEC) – multiple body parts.
  • Rapid Office Strain Assessment (ROSA) – upper extremities, neck and shoulders
  • Strain Index (SI) – upper extremities.
  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) – multiple body parts
  • Liberty Mutual Manual Material Handling Tables (LMMH) – low back.
  • Ohio State University Biomechanics Laboratory (OSU) Lumbar Motion Monitor (LMM) – low back
  • Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) – low back
  • Surface Electromyography (sEMG) – multiple body parts
  • Computer-based ergonomics assessment tools – multiple body parts.

Of the above here are some tools that can be implemented by a non-allied health professional:

  1. Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ)
  2. Standardized Nordic Questionnaire (SNQ)
  3. Quick Exposure Check (QEC)
  4. Rapid Office Strain Assessment (ROSA)
  5. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs)
  6. Computer-based ergonomics assessment tools

These tools can be self-administered by workers or completed by supervisors, safety officers, or other non-allied health professionals who have been trained in their use. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of these tools may be enhanced by the involvement of allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, or ergonomists who can provide additional expertise and support in injury prevention and management.

What they tested:

The authors of the systematic review analyzed 11 studies that investigated the effectiveness of various workplace musculoskeletal injury risk factor screening tools. These tools included questionnaires, physical assessments, and software-based assessments. The studies were conducted in a range of workplace settings, including healthcare, manufacturing, and office environments.

How they tested it:

The authors of the systematic review used a standardized approach to search for and select relevant studies. They assessed the quality of the included studies using established criteria and extracted data on the types of screening tools used, the outcomes measured, and the results of each study. The authors then synthesized the findings of the included studies to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of workplace musculoskeletal injury risk factor screening tools.

What they found:

Overall, the authors of the systematic review found that workplace musculoskeletal injury risk factor screening tools can be effective in reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace. The specific tools and approaches that were most effective varied depending on the study, but common themes included the use of comprehensive assessments that consider multiple risk factors and the involvement of both employees and management in the screening and prevention process. However, the authors noted that there is still a need for high-quality research to fully understand the most effective strategies for implementing these tools in different workplace settings.

What does this mean for individuals:

For individual employees, the findings of this systematic review highlight the importance of taking an active role in injury prevention in the workplace. Employees can work with their employers to identify potential risk factors and implement preventative measures to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. They can also advocate for the use of comprehensive risk factor screening tools to identify and address potential issues.

 

What does this mean for Australian workplace employers:

For Australian workplace employers, the findings of this systematic review suggest that implementing workplace musculoskeletal injury risk factor screening tools can be an effective strategy for reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and improving workplace safety. Employers can work with their employees and healthcare professionals to identify the most appropriate screening tools and approaches for their specific workplace setting. They can also prioritize the involvement of both employees and management in the screening and prevention process to ensure a comprehensive approach to injury prevention. By implementing these strategies, Australian employers can help create a safer and healthier workplace for their employees.

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/