March 28, 2024 / Georgi Popov and Tsvetan Popov

Applied Ergonomics Risk Assessment

Image Credit: Getty Images / Sunan Wongsa-Nga

The goal of a workplace ergonomics program is to prevent or reduce the risks of injuries and illnesses by eliminating or reducing worker exposure to risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). According to CDC, these risk factors include "awkward postures, repetition, material handling, force, mechanical compression, vibration, temperature extremes, glare, inadequate lighting, and duration of exposure."

Studies and reports from Liberty Mutual (PDF) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that WMSDs account for 33 percent of all disabling occupational injuries and 40 percent of total workers' compensation costs. A recent article in Professional Safety (PDF) observes that "[i]n addition to the injury and illness costs, workplace systems that lack fundamental ergonomics and human factors principles often lead to lower productivity and efficiency, lower quality of products and services, lower employee morale, higher employee turnover, and overall higher costs to the organization."

Unfortunately, few professional development courses (PDCs) address the latest ergonomics risk assessment and management methods in alignment with well-established global risk management standards like the ISO 31000 series. Furthermore, some of these PDCs provide strategies for leveraging resources to mitigate musculoskeletal risks. In our opinion, OEHS professionals should concentrate their efforts on preventing WMSDs instead of mitigating the consequences. In addition, most of the existing courses address single ergonomics risks and do not include the latest risk summation concepts.

Therefore, we have developed an applied ergonomics risk assessment course that gives participants a foundational understanding of an ergonomics program. The participants will learn to utilize tools for ergonomics hazard identification, analyze and evaluate ergonomic risks, and apply risk reduction concepts. Participants will also receive free, interactive ergonomics risk assessment tools.

This applied ergonomics risk assessment course will provide a historical perspective on fundamental ergonomics concepts. The course includes four modules:

  • Module 1 provides a foundational understanding of ergonomics risk factors and fundamental ergonomics risk identification tools. Ergonomics risk assessment definitions are also included.
  • Module 2 is an overview of essential ergonomics risk assessment tools used by OEHS professionals. Participants will be able to download and practice with an interactive rapid entire body assessment (REBA) tool.
  • Module 3 introduces the Ergonomics Risk Assessment Tool, or ERAT, which is used for quick screenings. ERAT was developed from a checklist that was part of the working draft of ANSI Z365, Management of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders.
  • Module 4 includes practical applications of an ergonomics risk summation and case studies.

Designed for OEHS professionals who are somewhat reluctant to perform ergonomics risk assessments, this course will help practitioners reduce WMSD risks and their associated costs, assess all existing ergonomics risk factors, and reduce whole-system risk.

The live online PDC "Applied Ergonomics Risk Assessment" will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, April 17. For more information or to register, visit the AIHA website.


Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Resulting in Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)."

CDC: "Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) Evaluation Measures."

Liberty Mutual: "Liberty Mutual 2019 Workplace Safety Index Reveals Workplace Injuries Cost U.S. Companies Over $1 Billion Per Week" (PDF, 2019).

Professional Safety: "Prevention through Ergonomics: Integrating Human Factors into a Prevention through Design Approach" (PDF, June 2023).

Georgi Popov and Tsvetan Popov

Georgi Popov, PhD, CSP, QEP, SMS, ARM, CMC, FASSP, FAIHA, is a professor and chair of the Occupational Risk and Safety Sciences department at the University of Central Missouri.

Tsvetan Popov, PhD, CIH, CSP, is an associate professor in the department of Occupational Risk and Safety Sciences at the University of Central Missouri.


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