Using the Static Force for Job Analysis Job analyses can help generate business in many areas for clinics involved in the occupational medicine arena. Performing a job analysis creates a bridge from the clinic to work place and gives valuable insight into the work dynamics of any given industry. This in turn generates opportunities to explore employment testing, functional capacity testing, return-to-work evaluations, creation of ADA compliant job descriptions, job modification, and consulting opportunities related to reasonable accommodation and modified duty. In addition, thorough job analysis also invites exploration into ergonomic and work practice situations and into the realm of educational seminars geared to the industry and "industrial athletes."
To offer job analysis services, however, a clinician or provider must be able to capture the crucial elements and critical demands of a given job. Typical tools needed to perform this service are a tape measure, a force gauge and a stop watch. The clinician must also possess a willingness to get down and dirty and the ability to determine effective methods for obtaining data on the critical elements that define a job's physical demands.
Reviewing any documentation the employer can provide about the position is a good starting place. If such documentation exists, it often identifies the essential job functions. Essential functions are those duties the employer identifies as integral to performing and completing a given job. The job analysis then defines the physical attributes associated with each essential function. Even if no documentation or only partial documentation exists, simple observation along with worker and supervisor interviews should provide enough information to define a position in terms of its integral components.
Once a job's duties are identified, the job analysis can be performed. Begin by looking at each task or component of the job. Identify what is physically required of the worker to complete each task. Some of the questions about physical demands you should answer are: Does the worker sit or stand as a requisite to performing the task? Does the worker need to use his hands to operate controls or tools? What work postures or work activities are performed? Is any combination of standing, walking, kneeling, squatting, or bending required? What kind of reach and work heights are required?
Answering these questions requires that you observe and document what work postures are mandated by the position, for example, sitting vs. standing. You may also wish to note differences between commonly used postures and those preferred by the worker, such as kneeling as opposed to squatting to work at low work surfaces. Document all required activities and identify inherent job task demands and worker preferences. Using your tape measure, quantify and document the relevant distances like work heights, surface heights, and reach requirements. This may also be a good time to describe any couplings or dexterity requirements, as well as tool use and grasp functions. If the job task has any kind of time or pace constraints, use your stopwatch to document these parameters. (This can be an effective avenue to highlight work practice and/or performance issues that relate to repetitive strains.) Next you should use the Static Lifting gauge to determine the physical loads and weight requirements of the job. (Scales can be used to measure simple weights, but they are often too cumbersome for effective job analysis.) JTECH's static force gauge has some extra features that set it apart from other gauges. First of all, it effectively captures the static weight of an object. This can be done by looking at peak force, maximum force and average force or by averaging a series (up to four repetitions) of peak or averages forces. This function proves especially handy when measuring items that are not easily stabilized, which makes obtaining accurate static weight difficult. Identifying torque forces is another area where JTECH's static force gauge is useful; such as when turning a crank to lower the gear on a large trailer. Often when turning a crank for the first complete revolution no consistency of force is required. By performing repeated tests, a peak force (the greatest effort needed to start the crank) can be identified along with the typical or average forces per revolution. This information is especially important if the job analysis data will be used for a work hardening or conditioning program at some point.
JTECH's static force gauge can also be set up to look at inertia by changing the test time (from 1-5 seconds or infinity) and the ready time (from 0-3 seconds). After the ready time expires, the static force gauge begins to collect data. This is especially useful when measuring the push and pull forces of heavy objects that require significant force to overcome inertia but relatively less force to keep the object in motion. This situation is found in industries where carts or bins are moved or at construction sites using heavy loads and wheelbarrows. In these situations, less sophisticated gauges may register a peak force before enough force is generated to set the object in motion, or you must watch for the greatest force value while you are pushing or pulling. By changing the time of information capture, OnSite gives you the ability to collect only forces pertinent to the task at hand and frees you from viewing the screen while performing the task.
JTECH's static force gauge offers other benefits that facilitate data collection for a job analysis. Its makes coupling the gauge to the environment easy. For example, the gauge can be placed in line to many tasks using the top and bottom attachment options. The unit is rugged and built to function under tough industrial conditions. It comes with a wide assortment of hooks, eyes, push plates and fasteners that readily apply to industry. Some of JTECH's static force gauges can connect wirelessly to your computer or console to store your data. The OnSite Gauge can store up to 40 tests and can be downloaded using a simple program to generate a report on your PC. This storage feature can be a life saver if any data recorded manually gets lost or becomes illegible. Once you have thoroughly addressed all of the above areas, you are now ready to put together an effective narrative based Job Analysis. You have collected all of the pertinent data associated with human performance in terms of work heights, surfaces, and reach; all of the work postures and activities have been identified as they relate to job requirement and worker preference; and all of the weighted parameters (items, negotiation, push/pull forces, and loads) have been identified using the static gauge. Now all the data must be put together in a manner that helps the client facilitate return-to-work avenues, modify duty options, evaluate functional capacity, or otherwise make use of the information. This is done by creating a picture in words encapsulating the job tasks and the functional data associated with them. The picture should also include any and all human performance elements. Providing a detailed picture allows the reader of your job analysis to see the position and allows for better creation of tests or comparisons than a checklist of critical demands.
At this point, you can even take your job analysis a step further by creating formal job descriptions that comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is done by pulling out all of the job analysis data that defines the job, such as the single greatest expectation. You should change your narrative picture now to depict the job as a whole and decrease the focus on the individual details. Task performance should be identified in ranges; for example: "Packages weighing up to 90 pounds are lifted, negotiated and carried without assist of handles for distances of up to 20 yards." In addition to the narrative picture, the critical demands can be listed to define physical employment expectations. Any and all administrative details pertinent to the position such as hours, wage, educational requirements, and the like can be added, along with information specific to work policies, safety regulations and exposure. The employer should formally define the essential functions specific to physical requirements and to the mental and skill needs. As a check for thoroughness, you should compare your picture and critical demand list to the employer's list of essential functions, both should complement each other and not leave any areas unaddressed.
As you can see, a job analysis can be an effective means to open doors to new business and revitalize existing business relationships. With JTECH's static force gauge you will now have the ability to enter the industrial medicine spectrum at virtually any point. This is true because service or care providers within the industrial medicine arena need greater clarification of physical expectations for individuals on the job. As a result of the information you can now provide, employers will have a greater understanding of the job and its demands on workers. Your data will also give employers a more accurate starting point for performing functional capacity testing, duty modification and employment testing.
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