Assessment of physical work load in epidemiologic studies: concepts, issues and operational considerations

Ergonomics. 1994 Jun;37(6):979-88. doi: 10.1080/00140139408963711.


Ergonomic epidemiology is a rapidly increasing field of research providing data on the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders and possible risk factors. The present paper states, on the basis of a literature overview, that physical work load (mechanical exposure) is poorly defined and measured in most studies on ergonomic epidemiology. On this background the paper: (1) suggests adjustments of mechanical exposure concepts and terminology; (2) concludes that invalid exposure assessment may, to a large extent, explain the lack of quantitative data on relationships between mechanical exposures and musculoskeletal disorders; and (3) suggests some guidelines for future quantitative assessments of mechanical exposure in large populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Ergonomics / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*