Technological progress is changing working conditions and can reduce physical workloads. Nevertheless, the physical workload at workplaces will remain considerable in the future. Physical loads can cause musculoskeletal disorders and diseases. These health effects lead to high economic costs due to the loss of production as well as further expenses - for health care and rehabilitation, for instance.
Risk assessment is an effective instrument of prevention. An inventory of complementary risk assessment methods considering various levels of differentiation is required. In this respect, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) have cooperated in the joint MEGAPHYS project. The developed set of instruments covers four levels, from screening tools and tools for expert screenings through measurement approaches for practical application and use in laboratory settings, including biomechanical simulation of internal forces using digital human models.
The screening methods cover six types of workload defined in the project: lifting, holding and carrying; pushing and pulling; manual handling operations; whole body forces; awkward postures and body movements. Lead-managed by the BAuA, the so-called Key Indicator Methods were revised and newly developed for each of these types of workload. The measurement methods use assessments that refer to the different parts of the human body. The connection between the method levels is based on a shared risk concept and impact model.
The methods have been comprehensively validated. Among others, in a field study, the working conditions at approximately 200 workplaces were analysed and assessed regarding their potential health risk, and more than 800 employees were interviewed and underwent a clinical examination. In this way, the association between risk assessment and observed adverse health effects was investigated.
The results of the project and the methods themselves are published in two volumes. Volume 1 is available for download on this website. Volume 2 was published by the DGUV in November 2020 The comprehensive application of the methods by practitioners is recommended. This may provide needs for further modifications and development of the methods.
Unit 3.1 "Prevention of Work-related Diseases"