Comparison of ergonomist, supervisor, and worker assessments of work-related musculoskeletal risk factors

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2004 Jun;1(6):414-22. doi: 10.1080/15459620490453409.


In primary prevention efforts to reduce the incidence of work-related musculoskeletal disease (MSD), many employers will use supervisor or worker assessments for initial evaluation of MSD risk factors. This cross-sectional study examined the ability of supervisors and workers to accurately assess the presence of MSD risk factors at four work sites in four different industries, examining five jobs that represented six primary categories of risk factors: posture, force, repetition, impact, lifting, and vibration. Thirty-seven supervisors and 55 workers assessed the jobs they oversee or perform through the use of a 14-item questionnaire. Their assessments were compared with detailed ergonomist job analyses to determine their accuracy in identifying the presence or absence of MSD risk factors. In assessing the absence or presence of all risk factors, agreement with the ergonomist was found 81% of the time for supervisors and 77% of the time for workers. Overall, supervisors and workers overestimated the presence of risk in assessing the jobs. Supervisors and worker assessments appear promising in recognizing risk in initial ergonomic assessments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ergonomics*
  • Facility Design and Construction
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Observer Variation
  • Occupational Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • Workplace*