Literature Review: Ergonomic-Related Job Factors

2.1 Introduction

One-third of human adult life is dedicated to breadwinning activities. Nevertheless, work should not be a mere means of subsistence, but it has to bring satisfaction. Moreover, despite the fact that workplace setting presupposes a huge quantity of tasks, exceeding capabilities, ergonomics-related job factors should be taken into account for a worker to preserve physiological and health costs. The current literature review will present and discuss determinants of ergonomic-related job factors on a basis of previous empirical reviews and findings.

2.2 Job Factor Model

The appearance of macro-ergonomics has solidly contributed to elevating interest in psychosocial work factors in the occupational ergonomics field. Job factor model suggests that work factors can be categorized into the individual, task, tools, technologies, physical environment, and organization. Generally speaking, job factors can be outlined as a group of specific aspects that refer to a job as assortment of individually performed tasks and duties (Salvendy, 2012). Numerous studies have demonstrated different constituents of job factor model that directly influence satisfaction, productivity, and motivation (Salvendy, 2012; Erick & Smith, 2013; Coluci & Alexandre, 2014). Salvendy (2012) have established two main factors that essentially contribute to job satisfaction in the academic sphere, encompassing positive emotional reactions and positive attitude. Kogi, Yoshikawa, Kawakami, Lee, and Yoshikawa (2016) emphasize the role of job satisfaction as the major determinant of general health and well-being. Thus, job dissatisfaction can result in burnout, absenteeism, and a high level of turnover.

Salvendy (2012) shows that occupational stress, as a job factor model constituent, seriously affects workers, especially in the academic sphere. This is a sphere, in which stress provokes a number of different correlated symptoms and signals encompassing the induced interfering working activities. As employers are interested in high results, they are supposed to design secure, comfortable, and efficient working conditions, utilizing ergonomics to create tools, tasks, jobs, and setting.

Ergonomics stands for a science that is an integral part of work to the employee. Poor ergonomic conditions at work might negatively influence employee’s health. Ergonomics precisely stands for ‘laws of work,’ outlining the design of tasks, equipment, data, and setting that suits each employee (Anzanello, Fogliatto, & Santos, 2014). Numerous companies and organizations currently acknowledge and consider ergonomics-related job factors as a significant function.

Ergonomic-related factors stand for the elements of a task or job, which inflict biomechanical stress on the employee. Ergonomic-related risk factors, encompassing repetition, force, and posture, appear to be the synergetic and interactive constituents of WMSD (work-related musculoskeletal disorders) hazards (Cheng, Wong, & Ju, 2016). Recent studies vividly demonstrate possible connection between WMSDs, job stress, and work organization (Cheng et al., 2016; Kogi et al., 2016). Job factor model induces that psychosocial work factors, which provoke stress and incorporate lack of control, work demands, job content, and social support, might affect or be connected with ergonomic factors as well (Kogi et al., 2016). Subjection to one ergonomic risk factor might be sufficient to provoke or contribute to WMSD. For instance, a specific job task might extort the utilization of such high amount of physical force that, even though the task does not require or incorporate extra risk factors (for example, repetition or awkward position), the overall employee’s exposure to extremely high degree of physical stress increases the probability of MSD occurrence (Erick & Smith, 2013).

Nevertheless, Cheng et al. (2016) demonstrate that the majority of ergonomic risk factors have to operate in a combination to lead to a hazard. Therefore, jobs that have multiple complex risk factors appear to lead to a higher plausibility of WMSD provoking on a basis of duration, periodicity, and/or immensity of exposure. This is the main reason why ergonomic risk factors should be reviewed and regarded in the light of their complex and amalgamated influence (Cheng et al., 2016). This can only be achieved in case the job hazard analysis and control processes incorporate recognition of all ergonomic risk factors. If they are not defined, employers will not have all the data required to define the reason of the covered WMSD or comprehend therisk factors, which have to be lowered to liquidate or materially decrease the WMSD hazards (Erick & Smith, 2013).

OSHA suggests that employers are supposed to acknowledge this list of ergonomic-related factors as a starting point for hazard evaluation (Salvendy, 2012). Firstly, these factors help employers in comprehending the risk and translating these factors to their own workplaces (Salvendy, 2012). Secondly, these factors assist in focusing on the job facets that are most connected with discrepant WMSDs (Salvendy, 2012). Moreover, it helps in defining risk factors that are most likely to be related to conditions and activities, which should help employers to concentrate hard on their analysis. Thus, they appear to be a bridge that connects the risks with an elevated hazard of developing work-related MSDs (Salvendy, 2012). Thirdly, it stimulates the WMSD identification and evaluation process as factors incorporate the main constituents of work associated with WMSDs (Salvendy, 2012).

There are numerous investigations about ergonomic-related job factors in workplaces in industrial area. Nevertheless, it is also important to analyze and focus on the effects of ergonomic factors on the health in the academic sphere (Korkmaz, Cavlak & Telci, 2011). WMSDs appear to be a general and prevailing occupational issue in the academic sphere, while its employees represent an occupational group with the greatest prevalence of WMSDs. Korkmaz et al. (2011) suggest that prevalence of self-reported WMSDs among professionals in the academic sphere ranges between 40 and 95 percent. Their work involves not only teaching students but also preparing tasks/lessons, assessment of students’ work, participation in extracurricular activities and various committees (Korkmaz et al., 2011). Academic sphere workers appear to be significant for the effective and efficient functioning of the education system and for enhancement of the learning procedure caliber. Thus, their work sometimes involves unfavorable settings, requiring them to mobilize cognitive, physical, and affective capabilities in order to obtain and achieve production aims and objectives, over-demanding or procreating efforts to the psychophysiology functions (Korkmaz et al., 2011). Thus, when academic sphere workers have insufficient time for recovery, ache symptoms might be prompted or triggered. In fact, this might result in high levels of stress, with repercussions to mental and physical health and affect their professional performance.

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Kogi et al. (2016) demonstrate that ergonomics delineates a scientific approach that might assist with stress management in an efficient manner, especially in regards with academic sphere. It provides a possibility to understand the actual job of professionals working in the academic sphere, its contexture and connection with the stress occurrence (Kogi et al., 2016). This might assist in indicating conjoined optimization measures of effectiveness and occupational health of academic sphere employees.

A number of job-related factors can lead to evolvement of WMSDs in the academic sphere profession. These factors incorporate a high level of workload, imprudent paperwork, preparing to classes combined with the evaluation of students’ works, shortage of workplace communication, exorbitant requirements and demands from supervisors and colleagues (Erick & Smith, 2013). In addition, work postures are also connected with WMSDs in the academic sphere professions. An analysis of ergonomic-related risk factors of WMSDs in the academic sphere professions appears to be highly significant for developing relevant managerial and preventative strategies that should be implemented (Erick & Smith, 2013).

There are three major wok-related ergonomic risk factors, including elevated task repetition, forceful exertions, and repetitive or sustained awkward positions. The first work-related factor concerns the fact that numerous responsibilities, tasks, and cycles appear to be repetitive in their character. Coluci and Alexandre (2014) show that they are often monitored and controlled in terms of daily or hourly production processes and targets. Since elevated task repetition is combined with other risk factors, it can seriously contribute to WMSDs. The second work-related risk factor regards forceful exertions, presupposing that numerous work tasks might require high force loads on the human body (Cheng et al., 2016). Coluci and Alexandre (2014) demonstrate that muscle efforts elevate in reaction to high force requirements, elevating associated fatigue, and thus leading to WMSD. The last work-related risk factor concerns monotonous and continued uncomfortable positions (Cheng et al., 2016). These postures place exorbitant pressure on joints at the same time overloading the tendons and muscles surrounding the affected joint. Body joints appear to be the most efficient in case if they are exploited at the closest point to the mid-realm joint process and movement (Cheng et al., 2016). The work-related risk of WMSDs increases in a case joints work outside this mid-realm monotonously or for continuous periods without appropriate and adequate recovery time (Cheng et al., 2016). Anzanello, Fogliatto, and Santos (2014) define risk factors typical of academic sphere professionals such as static positions or postures that an employee is supposed to hold for a long time. Cheng et al. (2016) demonstrate that this risk factor leads to neck, shoulder, back, and lower limb pain. In addition, this risk can lead to restricted blood flows and muscle damages.

The employment length is also important for the analysis of ergonomic-related job risk factors (Cheng et al., 2016). The findings in regards to these issues differ, especially concerning the WMSD development (Cheng et al., 2016). A number of studies demonstrate relation between prolonged length of employment and lower back and neck pain (Coluci & Alexandre, 2014). In addition, the prevalence of shoulder pain appears to be essentially higher for employees who operate in the academic sphere for 15 to 20 years (Cheng et al., 2016). Therefore, Salvendy (2012) suggests that long exposure time to occupational risk factors leads to the elevated chance of getting job-connected disorders. Erick and Smith (2013) assume that this connection might also be explained through the aging effect and cumulative impact of workloads on the musculoskeletal system of the workers. Kogi et al. (2016) suggest that these factors might appear among academic sphere employees with smaller teaching experience as well. Thus, new employees may not be adapted appropriately to the new working setting. As a result, the overall level of physical and psychological stress might seriously affect the health and well-being of their musculoskeletal states. Anzanello et al. (2014) demonstrate that long weekly working hours expose academic sphere employees to such factors as continuous standing, extended standing, or awkward positions, all of which typically cause back pain. Thus, for example, extended static and sitting positions combined with inconvenient back support appear to be closely connected with neck, shoulder, and lower back pain among academic sphere employees (Anzanello et al., 2014). Since employees are supposed to work in a ‘head down’ position for more than 4 hours, such awkward postures typically contribute to the development of neck pain. Cheng et al. (2016) demonstrate that low academic support, elevated level of anxiety along with elevated workload appears to inflict neck pain. Apart from that, the same job factors appear to be associated with limb pain.

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2.5 Discussion of New Ergonomic Job Factor

The majority of new researches on ergonomic job factor concentrate on the fact that there is a high requirement to evolve and implement effective and efficient intervention strategies, which should aim at curbing the development of WMSDs within the education profession as well as in all other spheres (Cheng et al., 2016). Thus, appropriate and relevant intervention strategies might incorporate specific ergonomically designed workplaces, well-designed equipment, reasonable job and workload demands, and training (Anzanello et al., 2014). The major objective of ergonomics-connected job factor stands for provision of maximum productivity at minimal costs. Anzanello et al. (2014) state that the costs in this regard concern health and well-being of the employees and not financial spendings. Coluci and Alexandre (2014) demonstrate that ergonomic training programs appear to be appropriate means to reduce the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders provoked by psychosocial risk factors. Thus, Cheng et al. (2016) believe that active and passive techniques should be executed during training programs. In fact, passive techniques, including lectures and video appear, are commonly utilized to share security and health data. Nevertheless, Coluci and Alexandre (2014) claim that active approaches appear to be more preferable. Therefore, it is important to shift from passive to active training techniques since it can facilitate increasing the amount of information that is transferred, thus leading to higher quantity of alterations that should be implemented in the workplace.

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