Office Ergonomic Assessment

What is an office ergonomic assessment?

An office ergonomic assessment evaluates and attempts to eliminate workplace risk factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) or musculoskeletal injuries (MSI). This assessment can be used as either a reactive or proactive approach to help reduce, MSD/MSI, increase productivity and minimize loss or restricted work time. 

What are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) or musculoskeletal injuries (MSI)?

A MSD/MSI is a disorder or injury that can affect the muscles, nerves, ligaments or tendons; such examples include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis, Muscle Strain and/or Chronic Low back pain. There are several workplace risk factors that expose an employee to the development of MSD/MSI including; working in awkward body postures, performing the same or similar tasks repetitively throughout the workday or inapt equipment set-up including inappropriate monitor height, positively tilted keyboards, keyboards placed on desktops or poorly designed or configured office chairs.  MSD/MSIs are among the leading causes of lost or restricted work time, however, they are preventable through educations and/or ergonomic assessments.  

What is the purpose of an office ergonomic assessment?

The purpose of an office ergonomic assessment is to minimize the risk of MSD/MSI development by providing strategies and equipment recommendations based on the employee’s needs. The office ergonomic assessment considers various factors that may impact the development of pain or injury including, office equipment set-up, body position and healthy work habits. Ensuring proper ergonomic set up of a computer workstation is imperative to reducing the risk of pain or injury associated with repetitive work and preventing development of new areas of injury. Office ergonomic assessments can improve compliance with safe work procedures by providing in-office feedback on safe work habits and techniques. 

What is involved in an office ergonomic assessment?  

A highly trained therapist with extensive knowledge of the intricacies of biomechanical function and office workplace arrangements will come to the employee’s office to assess the individual and their workstation. 

An initial interview is completed to gather an in-depth understanding of the individual’s workplace and job responsibilities followed by a short observation of the employee completing their job tasks. Detailed biometric measurements are collected in relation to the workstation as well as before and after photos are taken for the report. 

Individual adjustments are made on-site to the current office equipment to determine if an optimal workstation set-up can be arranged to mitigate the need to purchase new equipment. Specific information including but not limited to monitor height, keyboard distance, seat-pan depth, movement breaks, positional changes and optimal body positions is provided. 

Following the assessment, a comprehensive report is generated with all documented changes that occurred during the assessment. Each documented change will outline the rational as to why it is important for MSD/MSI reduction. Highlighted, at the end of the report, is a summary of specific equipment recommended during the on-site assessment. 

What is the length of an ergonomic?

A typical ergonomic assessment is approximately one hour. For less specific concerns, an ergonomic presentation (for groups of up to ten) is an option. This educational session is approximately 1.5 hours, during which time; employees are encouraged to raise specific questions or concerns regarding their office set-up. 

Who would benefit from an office ergonomic assessment? 

Everyone can benefit from an office ergonomic assessment. Employees spend up to two thirds of their workday at their desk. If the desk is not optimally arranged to promote healthy postures, there is a significant risk of pain or injury. Office ergonomic assessments help with employee responsibility and behaviour change by reinforcing proper positioning, equipment and techniques. Additionally, by minimizing or reducing pain, workplace productivity can increase. A healthy, comfortable employee is happier, more engaged and more productive than someone who is distracted by a poorly designed workstation or plagued by chronic pain.

Physical Demands Analysis (PDA)

What is a Physical Demands Analysis (PDA)?

A Physical Demands Analysis (PDA) or Job Demands Analysis (JDA) is an assessment that outlines the specific physical, psychosocial and environmental requirements of a job. It is intended to quantify the job and not the individual’s capabilities through describing the demands of the job. The PDA clarifies and documents the precise functions associated with a given role, evaluating and quantifying a job’s physical and environmental demands. The on-site information is then analyzed, compared and combined with national occupational data.  

What is involved in a PDA?

Through direct observation of the job and in collaboration with the incumbent employees and supervisors, the therapist will collect specific information regarding the physical, cognitive and environmental demands of the specified job to analyze and develop a comprehensive report.

What is the purpose of PDA?

A PDA can help ensure that an individual’s physical capabilities are in-line with what is required to perform the work safely and without risks and can provide a realistic match of job demands with an individual’s ability. Specifically, a PDA can be used to guide development of a return to work plan, help employers make decisions about returning employees to the same job or different jobs, find new job placements for individuals re-entering the workforce or help medical professionals set goals relating to the workplace.  

What information will be provided from the PDA report?

The PDA will provide an overall description of the job position, a breakdown of each physical job task, any information about equipment or tools, the frequency and duration of each specific task, objective measurements of weights, distances, heights, and forces associated with specific activities and a description of environmental conditions and personal protective equipment. 

Who completes the PDA?

PDAs and evaluation protocols are completed by professionally regulated clinicians skilled in injury prevention, job analysis, and return to work planning in-combination with both employees and supervisors.