Analyzing work dates back more than 100 years ago from pioneers like Frederick Taylor, and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. The purpose or focus of the analysis, of course, can vary; from developing “One Best Way” in an effort to maximize production, to easing the likelihood of worker fatigue and injury while completing work on schedule and under budget.
Why would you want to analyze your jobs? According to the Department of Labor’s Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs, analyses can help provide a basis for:
- Recruitment, selection, and placement of workers
- Training programs
- Performance standards
- Identifying safety hazards
Another critical reason to analyze the work your employees perform - help injured employees transition back to work as soon as possible following an injury. By providing treating physicians with the required physical demands or skill sets that one needs to safely perform a job, medical providers should be better able to make qualified and descriptive job restrictions, when necessary.
Physical Demand Assessments (PDAs) are a systematic means of describing and documenting the essential and non-essential physical activities of a job. Consider conducting PDAs for all jobs, but if resources dictate, consider them for jobs incurring frequent losses or for jobs that employ the majority of people. Also consider conducting these assessments on jobs considered to be physically easier. PDAs should include:
- A summary of the job, including its purpose
- Essential and non-essential job tasks
- Equipment and tools used
- Physical demands
- Mobility / position: walking, sitting, standing, etc
- Manual material handling: lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling
- Posture: bending, reaching, squatting
- Hand activity: grasping, pinching, palm press, fingering
The format and detail should fit your company’s human resources and medical management needs. For example, lifting could include lifting below the waist, waist to shoulders, and/or above the shoulders. Frequency of demands could be identified using the Dictionary of Occupational Titles categories of Occasional (up to 1/3rd of the time), Frequent (1/3rd – 2/3rds of the time), and Constant (2/3rds or more of the time). But further detail could also be provided by using Never, Rare, or Seldom. Other conditions or demands that could be incorporated include environmental conditions (e.g., noise, vibration, outdoors), cognitive demands, and sensory demands.
Information on PDAs or job analyses can be found in MEMIC’s Safety Director by searching, “Stay at Work” and “Physical Task Analysis”. Other resources and examples can be found at:
- Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
- New York State Workers' Comp Board - Return to Work