Assessment of physical work load in epidemiologic studies: Common measurement metrics for exposure assessment

R. Wells*, R. Norman, P. Neumann, D. Andrews, J. Frank, H. Shannon, M. Kerr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There are many possible means of determining exposure ranging from self-reports of physical exposure to measures of muscle activations and estimated spinal loads. In epidemiologic studies, issues of validity make instrumented measures preferable, however issues of cost and practicability tend to force investigators to less costly but less valid and less reliable measures of exposure, such as self-report questionnaires. This paper presents a method by which estimates of exposure from self-report questionnaires, expert observers, work sampling, video analysis and electromyograms can be reported in a common metric, Newtons of force on a tissue, and show, as an example of its application, estimation of spinal compression on auto workers. A common metric allows a flexible approach to selection of measurement methods in occupational settings: no matter which instrument is used the results can be combined to provide an overall picture of exposure. This approach to exposure assessment for the low back allows for comparability across studies and settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • EMG
  • Exposure assessment
  • Low back
  • Measurement
  • Occupational epidemiology
  • Questionnaire
  • Video
  • Work sampling


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