Evaluation of physical risk factors and mental load in a healthcare facility in southern Chile
TimeThursday, April 152:00pm - 3:00pm EDT
DescriptionHealth workers are generally exposed to high-stress situations, long working hours, repetitive movements, postural overload, among other factors, which can generate musculoskeletal discomfort and affect their productivity as well as the productivity of the healthcare facility. According to the latest Labor Survey in 2014, ergonomic risk factors are present in 32.4% of companies in Chile, being this one of the main types of risk. In the specific case of social and health services, this percentage reaches 37.9% (Directorate of Labor, 2014).
Chile currently has a regulation on basic sanitary and environmental conditions in the workplace (Act 594), which establishes that employers must evaluate the risk factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities present in the tasks performed at their companies. The evaluation should be carried out following the indications established in the Technical Norm. However, there are healthcare centers where these evaluations have not been done, such as the San José de la Mariquina Center.
Studies in personal services, including healthcare services activities, are scarce at the national level, although there are data that reveal a problem of low back pain in healthcare personnel (Secretariat of Social Security, 2019). Risk factors related to mental workload in Chilean healthcare workers have not been sufficiently studied, nor has the relationship that may exist between them and physical risk factors. There is a relevant lack of applied research in the healthcare sector, which could generate knowledge to support decision-making in ergonomic risk management related to mental workload and organizational issues (Gutiérrez Henriquez, 2014).
This is a condition that could become worst due to the current pandemic that has saturated healthcare centers. A high-risk level of mental workload and exposure to physical risk factors such as repetitiveness, force, and postural overload, can affect the health and productivity of healthcare workers and consequently compromise the response capacity of any healthcare center.
This study aimed to evaluate the physical ergonomic and mental workload risks of the employees of the San José de la Mariquina center. The study is also looking to determine if there is a relationship between mental workload and work design variables.
The study was carried out in four stages. In the first stage, a Standardized Nordic Questionnaire was applied to determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints in workers. In the second stage, an evaluation of physical ergonomic risks was conducted, specifically, evaluation of awkward postures, repetitiveness, manual handling of loads, and risks associated with work in offices, using REBA (Rapid Entire Body Assessment), Checklist OCRA (Occupational Repetitive Action), MAC (Manual Handling Assessment Charts) and ROSA (Rapid Office Strain Assessment) methods. In the third stage, the NASA-TLX (NASA Task Load Index) method was applied to determine the level of mental workload perceived by the staff. Finally, in the fourth stage, a statistical analysis of the results was conducted to determine if there is a relationship between mental workload and work design variables.
Knowing and understanding the relationship between exposure to physical risk factors and perceived mental workload would increase the level of assertiveness in the design and establishment of improvements, as well as a greater understanding of the situation in general.