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Musculoskeletal Disorders Literature Review

Musculoskeletal disorders are common workplace health problems that significantly threaten the organization’s and the worker’s health. Numerous studies have assessed this subject to provide recommendations and solutions to WMSDs. These studies can be applied in natural environments to improve workers’ health and organizational productivity.

Reducing WMSD associated with manual handling of gas cylinder

Devereux et al’s (1998) study assessed the hand-handle interface tool (HHIT) for its effectiveness in reducing musculoskeletal discomfort related to the manual handling of gas cylinders. The study showed the need for a practical approach to designing tools that would reduce physical straining, reducing musculoskeletal disorders at all stages of their work process. This study aimed to assess the potential benefits of using ergonomically designed manual tools for handling gas cylinder delivery and reducing physical strain. This study benefits organizations and the healthcare system in safeguarding the productivity of wholesome employees and eliminating healthcare costs associated with musculoskeletal disorders.

REBA Assessment

Haekal et al. (2020) study analyzed the operator’s body posture while packing using Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) tool to assess the occupational safety compliance of a pharmaceutical company in Indonesia. The purpose of this study was to assess the risk factors associated with manual material handling activities that can lead to work accidents (Haekal et al., 2020). The study findings show that specific postures of the neck, back, wrist, arms and legs involved in packaging were associated with the development of musculoskeletal disorders that reduced productivity in the packaging process. The study findings can be applied in ergonomics to develop more efficient posture approaches to handling packaging operations. This study is essential to companies that rely on human labour for packaging items and the healthcare sector as implementing the findings and recommendations of the study can significantly overcome WMSD problems in the workplace and improve productivity.

Ergonomics and Barrow Lifting Techniques

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are common among nurses involved in in-patient handling activities. Cao (2013) study assessed the ergonomic efficiency of patient barrow lifting technique using human digital modelling. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of the height and weight of the patients, clinical staff and positions during lifting and associations with WMSDs (Cao, 2013). The study findings suggest that clinical staff with higher weight and height values are more susceptible to WMSDs (Cao, 2013). The study could inform decisions to prioritize high-risk individuals in efforts to eliminate musculoskeletal disorders when providing ergonomic tools and approaches. Moreover, this knowledge would improve the ergonomic tools and training programs aimed at reducing musculoskeletal disorders.

Risk Assessment: Digital Human Modelling

Organizations have a responsibility to safeguard their employees from potential health hazards. Zelck et al. (2020) study assessed the risk factors of WMSDs among maritime workers using Digital Human Modeling. This study aimed to analyze and assess dockworkers’ activities to determine the risk factors associated with their profession. Based on these findings, a framework can be developed for future observation to produce smart-Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and product service systems that prevent unnecessary development of WMSDs.

Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders In The Workplace

The World Health Organization (2003) provides a manual for preventing musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. The manual presents guidance on the risk factors and characteristics of work environments that threaten the worker’s health. The factors to consider in WMSD prevention strategies have been well outlined. This resource provides valuable guidance that organizations could implement to eliminate health risk factors in their work environment (WHO, 2003). The information provided here can significantly reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders by preventing harmful postures and activities predisposing workers to WMSDs.


The studies provide significant insight into the definitions, conditions and risk factors associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The studies also provide approaches, solutions, and recommendations to improve safety in the workplace. Eliminating work-related musculoskeletal disorders has numerous benefits to the health of the workers and the organization’s productivity.


Cao, W., Jiang, M., Han, Y., & Khasawneh, M. T. (2013). Ergonomic assessment of patient barrow lifting technique using digital human modelling. In Digital Human Modeling and Applications in Health, Safety, Ergonomics, and Risk Management. Human Body Modeling and Ergonomics: 4th International Conference, DHM 2013, Held as Part of HCI International 2013, Las Vegas, NV, USA, July 21-26, 2013, Proceedings, Part II 4 (pp. 20-29). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Devereux, J., Buckle, P., & Haisman, M. (1998). The evaluation of a hand-handle interface tool (HHIT) for reducing musculoskeletal discomfort associated with the manual handling of gas cylinders. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics21(1), 23–34.

Haekal, J., Hanum, B., & Adi Prasetio, D. E. (2020). Analysis of operator body posture packaging using Rapid entire body assessment (REBA) method: a case study of pharmaceutical company in Bogor, Indonesia. International Journal of Engineering Research and Advanced Technology-IJERAT (ISSN: 2454-6135)6(7), 27-36.

World Health Organization , Jager, M., Griefahn, B., Caffier, G., Liebers, F., &, Luttmann. (2003). Preventing musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.

Zelck, S., Verwulgen, S., Denteneer, L., & Scataglini, S. (2020). Digital human modelling as a risk assessment tool for maritime workers. In DHM2020 (pp. 398-407). IOS Press.


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