Research Reports

Evaluation of Workforce Perceptions as a Means to Identify and Mitigate the Causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders

Principal Investigator:

Todd W Loushine

January 2010

Report no. Mn/DOT 2010-01

Projects: Evaluation of Workforce Perceptions as a Means to Identify and Mitigate the Causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders

Topics: Safety

An analysis of workers' compensation data showed that five job classifications accounted for over 93% of all cases. This analysis also showed that 48% of the cases resulted in sprains and strains, and 70% of those cases were caused by over-exertion and/or awkward work postures. Based on these findings, a research proposal was created to investigate worker perceptions of potential musculoskeletal injury factors and possible corrective actions. Fifty randomly-selected Mn/DOT transportation generalists and mechanics from District 1 were interviewed via telephone. Interviews were voice recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by shortening and separating responses. Each of the six questions produced between fifteen to twenty-one response categories and total response counts between 63-to-123. The most frequently cited safety concern was exposure to public traffic on road projects; followed by heavy or awkward lifting, "rushing" to get a job done and exposure to typical construction site hazards. Overall, workers felt management and co-workers were committed to safety on the job. Possible safety improvements revolved around: general awareness, watching out for each other, planning ahead, taking time to do the job right, and proper use of personal protective equipment. Most of the workers interviewed indicated interest in participating and promoting a workplace wellness program to improve their health and fitness. Efforts to reduce musculoskeletal injuries need to incorporate the concerns and ideas of workers, building off of what was learned in this study.

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