Author(s): Dempsey PG, Mathiassen SE
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Abstract The industrial revolution significantly changed the way work was organized and analyzed by the introduction and widespread implementation of the division of labor philosophy. This philosophy has continued to dominate work design, and has evolved beyond the factory to include many facets of service industries, and even professional occupations. The analysis of manual work, particularly materials handling tasks, remains an active domain of ergonomics research and practice. Many of the task-analytic tools used for workplace analysis are rooted in the philosophy of dividing work into elements, analyzing the individual elements, and synthesizing the results into conclusions about the entire job, including the risk of contracting musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The authors discuss the notion that the nature of modern work, which is characterized by multiple tasks in a complex time pattern, and the complex nature of MSDs, which are influenced by biomechanical as well as psychological, political, and economic factors, may limit the effectiveness of classical task analytic techniques in preventing MSDs.
This article was published in Appl Ergon
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics