Musculoskeletal disorders are unfortunately common workplace problems across many industries and services. They cause declining productivity and lower quality of life, also resulting in increased expenses of salary compensation and health costs. Caused by different risk factors, these disorders can be categorized into individual, psychosocial, and physical factors.
Physical load of work usually analyzes body posture, movement, recurring and forceful activities, and maximum force, or increasing muscle load over time. Associated with occupational tasks, a team may be formed to complete an ergonomic assessment of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). Their work involves evaluating the risk of developing a range of disorders to muscles, nerves and joints, primarily to the upper limbs and low back.
Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA)
The Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) method was developed by Dr. Sue Hignett and Dr. Lynn McAtamney, from University of Nottingham in England. REBA is a postural targeting method for estimating the risks of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. A REBA assessment gives a systematic assessment of the complete body postural risks to a worker. The analysis can be conducted before and after an intervention to demonstrate that the intervention has worked to lower the risk of injury.
The REBA was designed for easy use without extensive training in in ergonomics or expensive equipment. One only needs the worksheet and a pen. Using the REBA worksheet, the evaluator will assign a score for each of the following body regions: wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, neck, trunk, back, legs and knees. After the data for each region is collected and scored, tables on the form are then used to compile the risk factor variables, generating a single score that represents the level of MSD risk:
- 1 no significant risk, no change required
- 2 – 3 low risk, change may be required
- 4 – 7 medium risk, further assessments needed to create plan for changes
- 8 – 10 high risk, assess thoroughly, and implement changes
- 11 very high risk: implement changes immediately
Preparation for Assessments
The evaluator should prepare for the assessment by asking the employee being evaluated as to understand the employee’s job tasks and demands, and as wells as observing the worker’s movements and postures during several work cycles. Selection of evaluated postures should be based upon on:
- the most difficult postures and work tasks (per employee interview and assessor’s initial observation)
- which posture is sustained for the longest period of time
- the posture when highest force loads occur
Multiple positions and tasks within the work cycle can usually be evaluated without significant time, effort, or cost because REBA is conducted so quickly. Only the right or left side is assessed at a time, when using REBA. The evaluator can determine, after the initial interview and observation if only one arm should be evaluated, or assessment is needed for both sides.
Want to learn more about REBA in depth? Check out these resources for additional information.