Physical Demand Assessments
Physical demand assessments are commonly referred to as PDAs and typically focus on a single job that is suspected of having caused several injuries of the same nature. However, PDAs can also be performed facility wide in order to determine an appropriate direction for cost effective ergonomic interventions and solution implementation. Performing a PDA primarily consists of an ergonomist observing a single workspace or single job description in order to determine which aspects of the job or task presents an increased risk of a repetitive strain injury (RSI). It is recommended that PDAs be
performed by an expert in the field of ergonomics in order for all of the potential risk factors of a single job description or task to be identified. Workspace documentation via PDA is advantageous for several reasons. Documentation by way of PDA establishes a base line of activity that can be referred at a later date. This allows ergonomic staff to clearly define what changes have been made in the event that an intervention is not producing the results expected. PDAs also assist in identifying which aspects of a job pose the greatest ergonomic risk and allow for a gradient to be formulated in which jobs and tasks can be compared to other jobs and tasks. This helps ergonomic personnel to determine where the greatest RSI risk factors exist, appropriate modified work and what mechanical issues to resolve first in order to achieve the greatest intervention cost effectiveness.
Often it is realized that a perfect solution is not possible due to constraints such as available funding or facility space. Under these circumstances PDAs allow for the highest risk task elements of a job to be removed or reduced. Addressing a portion of a job can often decrease RSI risk factors to a satisfactory and non-hazardous level while allowing ergonomic staff to work within the constraints of the workplace. WorkSafe provides PDAs that are documented on the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board's Physical Demands Information Form to provide high accuracy with respect to forces that act on the entire body
and to facilitate interaction with the WSIB.