Ergonomics research over the next decade should focus on ways to improve surveillance and medical research, and to develop and evaluate new and existing intervention strategies, according to a recent report by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
"Research Topics for the Next Decade -- A Report by the NORA Musculoskeletal Disorders Team" was prepared by the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) team that studies ergonomics research priorities.
According to the report, research is needed to better describe the relationship between exposure to risk factors, including biomechanical, psychological and social factors, both singly and in combination, and the development of disease and disability.
Field research is needed to improve limits for exposure to physical demands and mechanical stresses, and the research needs to integrate personal and social factors, the report said.
In addition, research is needed to develop and validate more predict exposure assessment tools.
In the laboratory, conceptual models of the MSD development and recovery process need to be tested and refine, said the report.
The models should link exposures, tissue changes, physiological responses, adaptation and disease.
According to the report, mathematical and animal models are needed to help understand individual variables, and multifactorial models are needed to describe relationships between biomechanical and physiological factors.
The report said that the NORA team has "developed an agenda for MSD that should serve as a blueprint for building a national research program by identifying high priority research problems and influencing the allocation of resources."
Coordination of studies between partnerships including union, industry and government could help bridge communication gasps, develop efficient research strategies and improve the dissemination of information.
The complete report is available on NIOSH''s Web site at www.cdcc.gov/niosh/homepate.html.
by Virginia Sutcliffe