An exploratory ergonomic study of musculoskeletal disorder prevention in the Queensland Ambulance Service
Paul, Gunther & Hoy, Blake (2015) An exploratory ergonomic study of musculoskeletal disorder prevention in the Queensland Ambulance Service. Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 31(3), pp. 1-13.
From 2008-09 to 2012-13, the most prevalent worker compensation claim in the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) was musculoskeletal injuries at >80%. This is consistent with literature that shows Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) was one of the front runners for workplace injuries among many professions. In an attempt to reduce the injury rate and related claims, the QAS created a selection criterion for their workers based on the Health Related Fitness Test. This method intended to select workers based upon their fitness level, instead of selecting for their ability to perform the tasks or modify the tasks to better suit the workers. With injury rates remaining high, further research produced the Patient Handling Equipment Project Report, which provided the background for the Manual Handling Program Book. The Manual Handling Program Book however lacks in accurately addressing musculoskeletal hazards; actions which cause or avoid injury, correct posture and motion for patient movement, muscular biomechanics, static and dynamic workload including activities causing strain, and equipment use in relation to musculoskeletal hazards. The exploratory research aims to better understand the ambulance service’s perception of Manual Materials Handling (MMH), how it relates to musculoskeletal injuries and how the service has attempted to reduce its prevalence. Based on a literature review and a critical analysis of the QAS Health Related Fitness Test, QAS Patient Handling Equipment Project Report and the QAS Manual Handling Program Book, an understanding of their shortfalls in the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries was gained. This entails understanding the work tasks, workloads, strains and workflow of paramedics. This research creates a starting point for further research into musculoskeletal injuries in paramedics. This study specifically looks at hazards related to musculoskeletal disorders. It identifies work system deficiencies that contribute to the prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries, and possible interventions to avoid them in paramedics.
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