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Designing Worksite Toolkit for MSD Risk Dec 30th, 2014
A toolkit should provide practical tools and strategies for workplace use in identifying hazards and assessing risk. Training materials and guidance documents to support effective implementation of the risk management process should also be included. Another key requirement in using a toolkit approach is that of worker participation.

The advantage of the toolkit approach is that it can be customised by organisations to fit into their existing policies and procedures but it offers a more holistic approach to WMSD risk management—than is currently undertaken—which is needed if adequate coverage of all hazards and risks associated with WMSDs is to be undertaken.

Figure 1 above depicts three groups of workplace hazards: external (biomechanical) loads, organizational factors, and social context; those within the latter two groups are commonly known as psychosocial hazards.

Hazards within all three categories interact with each other (shown by linking arrows) and all of these hazards can affect processes internal to individual workers (internal biomechanical loading, physiological responses) and personal outcomes (discomfort, pain, impairment, disability). As shown on the right of the diagram, individual factors influence all personal processes and outcomes. ‘Stress’ is not highlighted here, although it is implicit within ‘Physiological Responses’.

Figure 2 above highlights the interacting effects on MSD risk of ‘physical’ hazards (mainly biomechanical) and psychosocial hazards. A person’s internal ‘stress response’, as shown here, occurs when situations are experienced as stressful; it is multidimensional, with physiological and behavioural, as well as cognitive and affective dimensions, with potentially profound effects on health, including MSD risk.

The model in Figure 3 below is in accord with the above 2, however but more directly applicable to workplace risk management because it provides more specific detail concerning the wide range of work-related hazards that can combine to affect risk.

MSD risk is increased if Job and Task Demands are hazardous or excessive in relation to available Coping Resources, and that risk is also affected by Other Psychosocial Hazards. The physical hazards of manual task performance are included within Job and Task Demands, along with the cognitive and emotional demands of task performance, and the broader demands of the overall job. Coping Resources are determined both by workplace factors (support systems and resources; psychosocial and physical environment influences) and by the individual’s own capabilities. Importantly, it is the combination of these diverse variables that determines risk.

Figure 3 is a great resource for planning worksite toolkit to assist to reduce worksite MSD’s. Click for downloadable template.

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