Conducting ergonomic risk assessments is the first step to reducing occupational ergonomic injuries. The goal of these assessments is to identify ergonomic risk factors so you can make process improvements to reduce their presence in your workplace. To ensure your workplace is as safe as can be, we’ve rounded up the best ergonomic assessment tools below.

1. Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA)

The REBA collects aggregate data for each body region used to complete a job and assigns a score that summarizes its Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) risk. Specifically, a form is used to assess the posture, forceful exertions, movements, repetition, and coupling a job requires. A score is then given for your legs, back, torso, neck, shoulders, elbows, forearms, and wrists. Once the data is collected for each body region and ergonomic risk factor, a single score is generated to determine overall MSD risk.

2. Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)

This assessment is similar to the REBA, but it focuses on your upper body – particularly your neck, trunk, arms, and wrists. To calculate the MSD risk using RULA, a form is used to assess the posture, force, and repetition a particular job requires from each body region. Section A of the form is used for the upper extremities, while Section B is for the neck and trunk. Once each body region has been scored against the ergonomic risk factors, a single score is generated that represents the overall risk.

3. Washington State Ergonomic and MSD Risk Assessment Checklist

This two-part checklist focuses on awkward postures, repetition, high hand force, repeated impacts, lifting, and hand-arm vibration. The first part of the checklist is known as the Caution Zone Checklist and is used as a preliminary screening tool for ergonomic risk factors. If the checklist confirms that there are risk factors, the assessor should move onto the second portion – the Hazard Zone Checklist. The Hazard Zone Checklist will diagnose any ergonomic risks related to the job so they can be reduced for a safer workflow.

4. WISHA Lifting Calculator

The following two tools are specific for jobs that require lifting and lowering tasks. The WISHA Lifting Calculator was created by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries based on NIOSH research that identified lifting as a primary cause of back injuries. The WISHA Lifting Calculator should be used as a preliminary screening tool to identify lifting tasks with MSD repercussions. For further analysis, the assessor should use the NIOSH Lifting Equation.

5. NIOSH Lifting Equation

For a more in-depth look at risks related to occupationally lifting and lowering objects, utilize the NIOSH Lifting Equation to influence safe lifting. The NIOSH Lifting Equation focuses on the Recommended Weight Limit (RWL) and Lifting Index (LI) to determine safe boundaries for manual lifting tasks. The RWL establishes the maximum acceptable weight that healthy employees could lift throughout an eight-hour shift without increasing their risk of lower-back MSDs. On the other hand, the LI estimates the physical stress and MSD risk of the lifting tasks that are being evaluated.

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