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Ergonomics. 2007 Nov;50(11):1771-808.

The work compatibility improvement framework: preliminary findings of a case study for defining and measuring the human-at-work system.

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University of Cincinnati, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Cincinnati, OH, USA.


Although researchers traditionally examined the 'risk' characteristics of work settings in health studies, few work models, such as the 'demand-control' and 'motivation-hygiene theory', advocated the study of the positive and the negative aspects of work for the ultimate improvement of work performance. The objectives of the current study were: (a) to examine the positive and negative characteristics of work in the machining department in a small manufacturing plant in the Midwest USA, and, (b) to report the prevalence of musculoskeletal and stress outcomes. A focus group consisting of worker experts from the different job categories in the machining department confirmed the management's concerns. Accordingly, 56 male and female workers, employed in three shifts, were surveyed on the demand/energizer profiles of work characteristics and self-reported musculoskeletal/stress symptoms. On average, one-fourth to one-third of the workers reported 'high' demand, and over 50% of the workers documented 'low' energizers for certain work domains/sub-domains, such as 'physical task content'/'organizational' work domains and 'upper body postural loading'/'time organization' work sub-domains. The prevalence of workers who reported 'high' musculoskeletal/stress disorder cases, was in the range of 25-35% and was consistent with the results of 'high' demands and 'low' energizers. The results of this case study confirm the importance of adopting a comprehensive view for work improvement and sustainable growth opportunities. It is paramount to consider the negative and positive aspects of work characteristics to ensure optimum organizational performance. The Work Compatibility Improvement Framework, proposed in the reported research, is an important endeavor toward the ultimate improvement and sustainable growth of human and organizational performance.

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