Identifying Risks for WMSDs

What are WMSDs?

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) affect the soft tissue of the body, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. These disorders have also be called cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), repetitive motion injuries and overuse injuries.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are the leading type of occupational injury in Washington State, and incur the greatest costs to industry and the workers’ compensation system.

SHARP Research on WMSDs

Since its founding in 1990, SHARP has conducted research to understand the prevalence and impact of WMSDs, identify the underlying mechanisms and risk factors in the development of WMSDs, and develop and evaluate interventions to prevent WMSDs.

Past WMSD research at SHARP has included: a study to evaluate the physical impact of a new basket for coffee harvesters in Nicaragua; an evaluation of the impact of different methods used to decrease manual patient lifting in Washington nursing homes; and a five-year study of physical job exposures to understand worker risk for upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders.

Identifying High Risk Jobs for WMSDs

SHARP conducted a 5-year study exploring the physical and organizational factors that contribute to WMSDs in six major industry sectors across Washington State.

During site visits to workplaces, SHARP researchers assessed physical risk factors for hundreds of jobs using a combination of well-researched evaluation instruments. Through interviews with managers, employees, and injured workers, researchers gained insight into the organizational climate, the nature of existing safety programs, and the context within which WMSDs occur.

Tools for Recognizing Risks and Preventing WMSDs

Based on the results of our 5-year study, SHARP developed an industry-specific physical job evaluation checklist and summary reports for six industry sectors. The checklist can quickly assess levels of risk of WMSD (minimal, moderate, or high) for the back, shoulder, hand/wrist, and knee in a given job.

Physical Job Evaluation Checklist

What's the purpose of the Physical Job Evaluation Checklist?

The purpose of the Physical Job Evaluation Checklist is to help identify aspects of the job that pose a risk for back, shoulder, hand/wrist, and knee injury, and prioritize injury prevention efforts by identifying the jobs or the aspects of the job that pose the greatest risk of injury.

Get started with the Physical Job Evaluation Checklist

Get SHARP's Physical Job Evaluation Checklist.

Currently, the checklist is only available for Windows operating systems. Running this Excel file on another operating system will create errors. Additionally, this file cannot be opened with any other spreadsheet program.

See the user guide for your specific industry. The guide will provide assistance while using the checklist: