Physical and cognitive demands analyses (PCDAs) are most often used when workers are injured, but they have many other uses, as well. A PCDA is a very detailed summary of all of the efforts that a worker applies to complete a job. They are also known as PDAs, JDAs, and PDDs. “Efforts” might be physical, like pushing, gripping, or lifting, or they might be cognitive, like numerical processing or attention to detail.
A mentored, novice ergonomist can complete PCDAs to the quality expected from an experienced ergonomist. We’ve been promoting our “On-Site Ergo+” program in our blog, e-news, and social media, because we’re trying to find 8 clients who want to launch big programs between May and July. This will allow us to hire 4 new grads. We’re expecting a great experience for the new grads, fulfilling mentoring experience for our senior ergonomists, and exceptional pricing for our clients.
So why would a company want to do PCDAs for all of their jobs? First, the obvious:
To help workers:
1. Posting a PCDA when a job opens up lets workers know exactly what to expect on the job. When they apply for the job, the worker can have confidence that it will be a good fit, and this improves the odds that they’ll stay on the job! (Less turnover.)
To help the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC):
2. To provide information that helps the JHSC understand how an injury might have happened.
3. To help the JHSC identify musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) hazards so corrective actions can be implemented.
4. To help the JHSC communicate with workers and supervisors about MSD hazards.
To help supervisors:
5. To help a supervisor introduce a new worker to the job by providing a visual, step-by-step guide.
6. To help the supervisor to point out MSD hazards to a new worker.
7. To help the supervisor to create a job rotation sequence that alternates demands throughout the day.
To help safety and ergonomics professionals:
8. To provide the information required to screen a job for MSD hazards.
9. To document job demands before improving the job, to allow a pre- to post-intervention comparison.
To support return-to-work after injury or illness:
10. To allow a supervisor or RTW coordinator to identify tasks that exceed a specific worker’s capabilities.
11. To allow a supervisor or RTW coordinator to begin to consider accommodations that would allow a worker to safely perform a job.
12. To allow a health care provider to quickly understand the demands of a pre-injury job.
13. To allow a health care provider to understand the demands of a return-to-work job offer.
14. To allow a health care provider to create an effective rehabilitation plan, by training towards physical and cognitive abilities that exceed job demands.
To support claims management:
15. To allow the WSIB or insurance company to understand the pre-injury job requirements.
16. To allow the WSIB to consider the work-relatedness of an injury and job.
17. To allow the WSIB or insurance company to evaluate the suitability of return-to-work (or stay-at-work) job offers and accommodations.
And now the less obvious…. During the completion of a PCDA, we also
18. Build relationships with workers, allowing them to express any concerns that they have about the job. Workers enjoy the opportunity to be heard face-to-face, and to help the ergonomist to understand and document the job.
19. Document other hazards and PPE requirements, which provide you with a library of information about your jobs.
20. Identify the “bona fide” occupational requirements, so you can develop post offer evaluation tests (POETs).
21. Validate the document using a joint worker/management process, providing opportunities for workers and managers to communicate with each other about physical and cognitive demands.
22. Photograph job demands, providing visual, step-by-step instructions for job completion, which could be posted at the workstation.
23. Gather most of the information that is needed by the ergonomist to complete a detailed risk assessment. A good PCDA makes the ergo assessment much faster.
24. Gather much of the information that is needed to complete an energy expenditure assessment, which would categorize the job as “light”, “moderate”, “heavy” or “very heavy” during heat stress season. A good PCDA makes an energy expenditure assessment much faster.
25. Report hand heights and reaches for all tasks with any “effort”. If you have a worker of a particularly tall or small stature, you can interpret the demands for that worker.
26. Provide photos of the workstation, tools, and parts, with dimensions for scale. This helps a person from outside your organization to better understand the context of the job.
27. Describe the cognitive demands of the job, so you can compare jobs, or find a job with specific requirements.
28. Describe the sensory demands of the job. Which jobs use the senses of touch, taste, smell, vision?
29. Gather enough information to build an effective stretching program, that would alleviate tension that might be developing in muscle groups that are used most.
30. Gather enough information to build an effective strengthening program, to harden workers to specific jobs, or to build strengths in the muscles that complement those used on the job.
Not all PCDAs will do all of this..checklists are not nearly as versatile!
Why use mentored, novice ergonomists for these projects? In my opinion, completing PCDAs is the best way to launch a career in ergonomics, because these skills are foundational to the rest of the work we do. The novice ergonomist learns to gain trust and cooperation from workers, communicate effectively with workers and managers, sift through mountains of information to identify what’s relevant, take photos effectively, measure heights, reaches, task durations and forces accurately, report task demands concisely, seek and integrate feedback on their work, and use appropriate resources to address concerns. Learning through mentorship ensures that the new ergonomist has help for challenging projects, gets prompt, frequent feedback on reports, and avoids picking up bad habits that are hard to break. Once a new ergonomist has mastered these skills, evaluating risk and specifying recommendations will follow naturally. Our hope is that, when our new ergonomists are ready to dive into ergonomics program development, you will be, too!
Don’t miss out…we have only a few openings for OSE+ projects left. We’re interviewing now, for May-July program start dates. Want info?
Check out our landing page, here.
Set up a short meeting with Carrie, HERE.