Criteria for the reintegration in the workforce of workers with musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limbs, based on preliminary practical experience

N. Battevi, R. Bergamascos, C. Girola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper presents a preliminary study on the return to the workforce of employees with WMSDs of the upper limbs, and their reallocation to jobs with 'low exposure'. The study, which is still underway, involves a large engineering firm and includes some 100 workers affected by WMSDs. The trial involved: providing a definition of the criteria for characterizing 'accommodating' jobs (i.e. frequency of action <20 actions/min; virtual absence of other risk factors such as force. awkward posture, inadequate pauses, etc.); effectively identifying jobs meeting such criteria (or jobs which, with minimal modifications, could be made suitable); classifying WMSD workers according to the type and severity of the disorder; matching WMSD workers with the jobs best suited to them; specific training for the workers and their supervisors; carrying out a follow-up of the return of WMSD workers to the workforce in organizational terms (i.e. the need for further modifications to equipment or procedures) and clinical terms (i.e. symptom patterns, acceptability of the condition). The preliminary results, 6-12 months after the start of the trial, are extremely encouraging, and show that when workers return to the workforce in jobs that fully meet defined criteria, a significant prevalence of 'improvements' are reported among the workers involved. The investigation will need to be extended but it already shows quite convincingly that it is possible for workers with what can be described as a 'reduced working capacity' to remain 'productive' (albeit in jobs featuring a lower exposure potential than the acceptable threshold for 'healthy' workers).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1384-1397
Number of pages14
JournalErgonomics
Volume41
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1998

Keywords

  • Practical experience
  • Reintegration in the job
  • WMSDs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Psychology(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics

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