Planning Work Observation


Effective Risk Assessment (and the choice and implementation of controls) is based upon a good understanding of the work processes. This is used to set up procedures for determining what to monitor, who to monitor, when to monitor and what data to collect that is appropriate for the methods chosen


When performing screening for MSD hazards, a preliminary risk assessment or a more comprehensive risk assessment, the Risk Assessment Team should talk first to workers, supervisors, managers and technical employees. This gives a necessary understanding of the work process and tasks.


Observing work tasks should be guided by: who, what, when, where and how.


Plan

Factors to Consider

Who?

Who to observe? The focus should be on hazards created by the work processes rather than on individual behaviours. Observe multiple people where possible. Perhaps observe tall and short persons at a minimum.


An individual focus is relevant for incident investigation or Return to Work

What?

What task or tasks to observe? Two main options:

  1. For jobs that consist of a single or small number of tasks focusing only on them may identify the key hazards. For short cycle, repetitive work the focus would be on the “work cycle”
  2. If workers perform multiple task, or there is no clear work cycle or the work cycle is long –hours rather than minutes -  a step of listing all tasks and performing a screening step to identify tasks that may be most problematic or have MSD hazards is needed. Video recordings /risk assessment of only these selected tasks could then be performed

When? 

If tasks vary by day, week, product or service, a step of listing all tasks then performing a screening step to identify tasks/ products/ processes that may be most problematic is necessary. Observation or video recordings and risk assessment of only these selected tasks could then be performed, perhaps requiring multiple viewings

Where?

This may be dictated largely by the “when” but some situations have particular challenges. For example, during toileting in a health care environment 

How?

“How” is mainly driven by the input requirements of the risk assessment methods chosen.

  • For the screening step, unaided observation and discussion is typically used.
  • For some observational assessment methods, unaided observations may be sufficient. For other methods, video recordings may be used to better categorize body postures.
  • For short cycle repetitive jobs, video recording of multiple cycles can be used
    • For slowing down fast movements of the upper limb  
    • for timing
    • for simply communicating information about the job for members of the risk assessment team and others who did not observe the work. 



                    



MSD prevention site factsheet

What's New?

Welcome to the BETA site for the new MSD Prevention Guideline. We are working hard to develop it further. Look out for videos of MSD Hazards, sections on MSD Controls and for case studies.


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MSD prevention site factsheet

Introduction Factsheet

Download the factsheet introducing the new MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario.



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Success Stories

Read success stories and case studies about preventing MSD. These stories may apply to your workplace and help you make the right decision. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are lots of myths about preventing MSD at work. With good information and actions, MSD can be prevented

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DISCLAIMER: CRE-MSD receives funding through a grant provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.


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