From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Study Links Caregiver Productivity Decreases to Pain and Lifting/Transfer Frequency

Reduced work productivity was predicted by pain frequency and the frequency of client lift/transfer tasks among 56 long term health caregivers who experienced work related musculoskeletal pain in the prior nine months, according to a recent University of Maryland study.  Productivity was not influenced by other factors including age, ethnicity, chronic MSD diagnosis, and years on job.
A Work Productivity Impairment Scale composed of eight questions was created by the authors for this research. The Scale yields a Productivity Impairment Score which is a relative value that reflects three productivity factors:
• Reduced time on task
• Difficulty doing the work
• Reduced efficiency
The Bottom Line – How This Applies To Ergonomists

The productivity loss related to resident lifts and transfers underscores the need for the promotion of safe and effective client handling procedures. The study noted that over two thirds of the caregivers claimed that they never used mechanical lifts for client transfers despite the availability of the equipment. This is a problem begging for an answer, especially as the baby boom group becomes older.

The Work Productivity Impairment Scale, which was tested for reliability and validity, could be a valuable metric when applied pre and post the application of ergonomic controls. Although not tested outside of health care facilities, it may also serve, with some modification, to quantify pre/post ergonomic controls in other work environments.

Scale Composition

The scale was made up of eight yes/no questions which included:
1. Did you reduce or modify work duties?
2. Was it hard to work?
3. Did you cut down on the amount of extra work/overtime?
4. Did you work more slowly?
5. Did you take more frequent/longer breaks?
6. Were you less able to concentrate?
7. Did you need more help from co-workers?
8. Did it interfere with your ability to transfer residents?

A yes response was given a value of “1” while a no response was given a value of “0”.  The average response value was calculated [ {∑ yes and no responses} ÷ 8 ] to produce a Productivity Impairment Score of between 0 and 1. A value closer to 1 indicates lost productivity.

Other Key Study Points

The true financial expense of work related caregiver musculoskeletal injury related to client lifting and transfer should include costs from:
• Medical payments
• Lost time wage replacement
• Diminished employee productivity due to injury pain and impairment
• The employee quitting prompting the need to hire a new employee; caregiver replacement costs are considered to be 25 percent of an employee’s annual salary due to recruitment, selection process, and training
• Clients leaving the facility because of a disruption of client services from a smaller staff/less experienced staff
• Other employees quitting due to disrupted work organizational and poor morale; this will further contribute to the occurrence of the prior two points

This paper can be acquired at:;jsessionid=KjPXCH1j9xKY63GJVHGw2rrKpxPrN37vrVrjbKkbNmKvxP2mh0Gs!1966694724!181195629!8091!-1

Article Title: Work Productivity Impairment From Musculoskeletal Disorder Pain in Long-Term Caregivers

Publication: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 51:6, 2009

Authors: P W Gucer, M Oliver, J M Parrish, and M McDiarmid

This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2009-06-03.