WEBINAR: Exploring Traditional and Alternative Ergonomic Assessment Methods to Predict Injury Risk of Work-Related Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Evidence from the Lab to Practice in the Field



Synopsis: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common neuropathy of the upper limb and poses significant workplace compensation costs due to disability and lost time. While it is well-known that CTS is caused by mechanical compression of the median nerve, there are several mechanisms underlying injury development. The most common ergonomic assessment tools evaluate occupational risk based on physical exposures, such as non-neutral postures, repetitive actions, and forceful exertions. However, each method, including the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA), Strain Index (SI), Occupational Repetitive Action (OCRA), and the Threshold Limit Value for Hand Activity Level (TLV for HAL) weighs each physical risk factor differently. Consequently, these methods often indicate different levels of injury risk when applied to the same job.

In this webinar, I will review traditional ergonomic tools, including how physical risk factors are summed to predict injury risk in each assessment method. I will explore how these tools relate to mechanisms of injury, with the goal of providing guidance for determining when (and when not) to use each assessment method. I will then introduce alternative ergonomic assessment techniques, which relate more closely to injury development. I will further highlight the use of these novel methods in an ongoing ergonomics research project inside the pork industry in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.


Biography: Dr Aaron M Kociolek is an Assistant Professor within the School of Physical and Health Education at Nipissing University. Prior to his appointment, he worked as an Ergonomics Research Associate at the University of Saskatchewan from 2014 to 2016, and received his PhD in Occupational Biomechanics from McMaster University in 2015. He has conducted both laboratory- and field-based research with a strong interest in elucidating injury mechanisms and preventing musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. His doctoral research evaluated tendon motion and shear in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. His current interests include wrist and hand pathomechanics, occupational injury risk assessment, sensorimotor changes, and comorbidities of carpal tunnel syndrome. He is also involved in an ongoing project assessing ergonomics within the pork industry, including worker use of traditional needle versus needle-less injection systems for delivering vaccines and medications.