Ergonomics tools & information for better workplace health & safety

Ergonomics Resources

Welcome to the ergonomics resources page. If you have any questions about the articles and tools shared on this website, or would like to book an ergonomic risk assessment at your workplace, please get in touch to speak with one of our ergonomists.

What does a certified ergonomist do?

Professional ergonomists help to assess and manage risks in the workplace.

We have created this page as a helpful resource for clients to better understand what we do and to provide information on some of the common risk assessment tools used by professional Ergonomists in the workplace. For personalised advice, contact Alba Ergonomics to discuss your workplace health and safety with a qualified ergonomist.
Read our recent blog articles

Introduction to Ergonomics Risk Assessment

So, what is an ergonomics risk assessment?

An ergonomics risk assessment (ergonomics assessment) is an objective measurement of risk factors in the work environment that may lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) or injuries among your workers.

An ergonomics risk assessment involves

  1. considering what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard and
  2. the likelihood of that identified risk occurring.

For hazardous manual tasks this means identifying and examining in detail the hazards associated with a particular task, to assess the likelihood of the forces, movements and postures resulting in a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).

A risk assessment helps determine

  • how severe a risk is
  • whether any existing control measures are effective
  • what action you should take to control the risk, and
  • how urgently the action needs to be taken. Hazards have the potential to cause distinct types and severities of harm, ranging from minor discomfort to significant injury.

*Safe Work Australia, Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice (2018)

How to Manage Hazardous Manual Lifting Tasks

The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) national working group has developed a national position on ‘how to lift’ training (HTL training), with the aim being to reduce reliance on HTL training as a means of controlling manual task related hazards, and to inform business and industry of how hazardous manual tasks should be managed.
Read the Position Paper

Choosing the Right Ergonomic Risk Assessment Tools

There are many Ergonomic risk assessment tools that have been developed to identify hazardous manual tasks in the workplace, assess the level of risk of musculoskeletal disorders, and the outputs of these tools can help inform advice for controlling these risks.

The resources and tools used must be carefully selected, appropriate and specific to the task. As professional Ergonomists, we are experts in selecting the right assessment tool for the situation, understanding the strengths and limitations of the tool, and considering the information generated as only one part of a comprehensive assessment.

We understand that we must consider the broad, multi-factorial nature of musculoskeletal disorders. Professional ergonomists know that improved workplace management of MSD risk requires a systems-based management framework, a more comprehensive risk assessment that considers the multifactorial nature of MSD risk and recommends control procedures that address risk from all types of hazards together rather than in isolation from each other, and that support participation by workers themselves.

*Macdonald W, Oakman J. Requirements for more effective prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2015; 16: 1–9

Ergonomic Risk Assessment Tools in Practice

Ergonomic Risk Assessment tools are extremely useful in practice; however, they do have limitations and cannot be used in isolation to determine whether a task is safe or unsafe. It is just one piece of information that forms part of a comprehensive, systems-based approach to identify the source of the risk, and consider all ergonomic challenges and human factors to evaluate the best improvement strategies for both the wellbeing of your people and the productivity of your workplace.

Composite Model of WMSD Risk

Image: A simplified composite model of WMSD risk, Macdonald, W., & Oakman, J. (2015). Requirements for more effective prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 16(1), 293. doi:10.1186/s12891-015-0750-8.

External Factors
Workplace Envrionmental Factors
Work Organisation & Job Design Factors
Task & Equipment Factors
Workers' Personal Characteristics

Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders in Australia

Read the latest research on work-related musculoskeletal disorders by La Trobe University, which was prepared for Safe Work Australia.
PDF Article

How to Conduct an Ergonomics Risk Assessment

Always consult with a qualified Ergonomist 

Ergonomics Risk Assessments are best carried out by qualified, professional Ergonomists who are trained in this special field. Understanding how to use a risk assessment tool as part of a comprehensive, systems-based approach is what makes us experts in our field.

There is a strong business case for managing musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) in the workplace. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) still account for many workers’ compensation costs in Australia, and globally. An engaged workforce that feels valued and has a strong culture of safety and wellbeing, where people are the most important asset, results in improved morale, increased productivity, decreased lost time injury, reduced absenteeism, and cheaper workers compensation premiums!

If you would like to understand more about the risk assessment tools that are commonly used by professional Ergonomists as part of a comprehensive risk assessment we have included below, a summary of tools, including links and resources for further information.

List of Ergonomic Risk Assessment Tools

This list contains some common risk assessment tools used by Certified Professional Ergonomists

Welder performing manual tasks in the workshop.

Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA)

The Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) is a useful tool to screen and assess manual tasks that place demands on the entire body and can used in workplaces where a hazardous manual task has been identified or when work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are reported quickly and easily.
Read more
Truck driver performing repetitive tasks.

Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)

RULA (Rapid Upper Limb Assessment) is a useful screening tool to assess manual tasks that specifically involve use of the upper limb and can used in workplaces where a hazardous manual task has been identified or when work-related upper limb disorders are reported.
Read more
Farmhand performing manual lifting of heavy goods.

Revised National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) Lifting Equation

The Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation is a tool, developed by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), designed calculate an overall risk index for tasks that require single or multiple manual lifting tasks to help evaluate the risk of musculoskeletal injury.
Read more
Plumber working in a confined space performing manual labour tasks.

Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks (PErforM)

PErforM is a manual task risk-management program based on participative ergonomics. It is an evidence-based program designed to recognise and engage the “experts,” talking to the workers who perform that task and involving them in a practical, solutions-based approach to reduce the number of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.
Read more
Waiter carrying two plates of food on one arm.

Manual Tasks Risk Assessment Tool (ManTRA)

ManTRA (Manual Task Risk Assessment), conceptually based on the upper limb Strain Index, was devised as a measurement tool to be employed by Workplace Health and Safety Inspectors to screen manual handling tasks and assess the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Manual Tasks Risk Assessment Tool (ManTRA) is a useful screening tool that requires no special equipment and gives a skilled ergonomist a quick assessment of the postures and loads experienced, broken down into individual regions of the body.
Read more
Crane operator preparing to move heavy goods.

The APHIRM Toolkit

A Participative Hazard Identification and Risk Management (APHIRM) is a toolkit for improving the risk management of musculoskeletal disorders. The APHIRM toolkit is a set of evidence-based procedures and tools for workplace users to manage risk of work-related musculoskeletal injuries and disorders (MSDs). It is unique in that is considers both the physical demands of manual handling tasks AND psychosocial hazards that we know affect MSD risk.
Read more
Factory assembly worker performing repetitive tasks using her hands.

ACGIH Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for Hand Activity

ACGIH Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for Hand Activity is a useful assessment tool designed to protect workers, who perform repetitive hand exertions for 4 or more hours per day. It is a highly specific tool, limited to single task jobs that demand repetitive exertions, separated by periods of rest.
Read more
Ergonomisst performing a risk assessment in the workplace.

Book an Ergonomics Risk Assessment

As Professional Ergonomists we follow a systems-based approach. We utilise a broad range of best practice, evidence-based methods to assess tasks. We consider these tasks within the overall job demands and provide advice to optimise human well-being, performance, and productivity. Contact Alba Ergonomics to book an ergonomics risk assessment at your workplace. We're based in Sydney and provide services across all of Australia and internationally.
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Claere Kay
27 December 2016

Claire is an extremely talented and capable safety and health professional! She has the ability to analyze and assess a safety problem and develop practical and innovative approaches and solutions. She is also reliable, conscientious and efficient and I can't recommend her highly enough.

Tim Knowles
20 December 2016

Our global company (Pressalit A/s) was directed towards Claire, for her professionalism and great depth of knowledge in her chosen field of expertise. Without a shadow of a doubt, Claire delivered all and more that we expected of her, and I would have no hesitation is putting her down as a leading individual who can deliver the goods. I wish her every success for the future, and happy to answer any questions about our experience with Claire.

Yvonne Hinch
3 February 2012

Claire is always good to work with, begin personable while at the same time remaining highly professional and effective. It is always a pleasure to work with her.

Julie Pengelly
12 May 2011

Claire has been engaged on a number of occasions for her ergonomics and human factors expertise and also her ability to facilitate group processes. Additionally I have been associated with Claire in her position of NSW HFESA Conveyor.

During these occasions, Claire has always been highly professional, diligent and displayed a strong work ethic and importantly delivering agreed outcomes within, often tight timeframes.

Claire has demonstrated her ability to work effectively with a wide range of clientele and adapts her style and approach to ensure the success of the project/ deliverables. She has excellent interpersonal skills and is extremely pleasant and hassle free to work with.

Based on the work Claire has delivered, I would highly recommend her to other organisations and have no hesitations in providing this recommendation.

Suresh Manickam
20 April 2011

I engaged Claire to provide OH&S advice to my business. The advice she provided was expert, thorough, cost effective and timely. Claire highlighted the current & potential risks and provided practical strategies to deal with them. I have no hesitation in recommending Claire as an OH&S expert.