As part of a broader initiative to reduce musculoskeletal disorders in high-risk workplaces, researchers are developing a new Workplace Musculoskeletal Disorder (WMSD) Toolkit. It focuses not only on traditional "observable" physical risks, but also organisational risks and mental health hazards

A wide range of research had previously confirmed the link between WMSDs and psychosocial hazards.

Psychosocial hazards that impact upon musculoskeletaldisorders include job satisfaction, workplace stress, work/life balance andpersonal exhaustion.

Before the WMSD Toolkit, however, none of these factors hadbeen reflected in workplace strategies implemented to manage WMSD risk.

A research team, led by Dr Jodi Oakman from La Trobe University's Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors, attempted to bridge this gap betweentheory and practise.

This team's aim was to use their previously-validated WMSD survey to collect information regarding related hazards in selected high-risk workplaces and then use this evidence to produce a more well-rounded WMSD risk management toolkit for routine occupational use.

Status

The project was completed in 2012 with the development of an effective toolkit. The team published a journalarticle onthe subject in the Journal of Health and Safety, Research and Practice.

The findings of the team were detailed in a final report, in which they call for longer-term research to fully evaluate the success of the toolkit in reducing WSMDs.

The survey component of the WMSD toolkit was further validated and developed in a later ISCRR project, which used the survey to evaluate WMSD claims across the aged-care sector.

This secondary project concluded with a report that further reinforces the importance of considering both physical and psychosocial risk factors when looking at WMSDs.