Knowing the physical demands of work is an essential foundation for injury prevention and management. This knowledge is essential for matching the worker with the work and forms the basis for developing post-offer and return to work screens, transitional duty programs, and industrial rehabilitation programs for the injured worker. Most organizations have poorly written job descriptions that describe only a few physical demands of the job in very general terms and are woefully inadequate for any of these purposes. This paper will describe a variety of processes for performing job analysis with emphasis on a systematic, objective process for gathering this data.
In addition, background information regarding the Department of Labor's classification system will be covered. The classifications of the levels of work, (Sedentary, Light, Medium, Heavy and Very Heavy), the duration of frequency (Constantly, Frequently, Occasionally, and Never) will be described. The definitions of the physical demands (Reaching, Stooping, Crouching, Kneeling, etc.) will be explained. This information will help the reader utilize the DOL's classification system to define the physical demands of the jobs in their organization.
The differences between job demands analysis and hazard identification will also be covered. These two types of assessments are interrelated but significantly different and require ifferent assessment techniques. This distinction will be explained and the utilization of information with these types of assessments will be addressed.
The results of job demands analysis can be used to determine the tasks included on postoffer and return to work screens. In addition, job demands analysis can be an important part of post-injury management and transitional duty.
The purpose of the JDA is to define the physical demands of work utilizing the DOL classification system described in Tables 1 and 2. JDA is not to be confused with hazard identification or work risk analysis (WRA). In WRA, the purpose is to identify elements of the job that might create excessive stress for the worker. In JDA, the purpose is to define or classify the demands of work regardless of the hazard. In some projects, the goal is to combine JDA and WRA. However, different assessment tools are needed for each type of analysis and therefore the purpose of the project and appropriate tools should be determined prior to conducting the analysis. This paper will focus on JDA.
Table 1. Physical demands of work defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (Adopted with permission from Classification of Jobs, Janet E. Field and Timothy F. Field, lliott and Fitzpatrick, Inc., Athens, GA 1992.) (available in full paper).