The MAC and ART tools are great tools for initial identification of musculoskeletal risk factors. This post tells you how to get even more out of them.

HSE will soon be publishing a new tool – similar to the MAC – for push-pull tasks which is much anticipated! But before that happens, in this blog I’ve flagged up two frequently overlooked additions to the ART and MAC that are already available via the HSE website, which complement the ART and MAC and extend their usefulness.

ART  Task Rotation Tool

The HSE’s ART task rotation tool is a spreadsheet that uses the data you enter, to calculate a single overall exposure score for a job role that involves multiple different activities.

In the spreadsheet you enter the total task score for each separate activity which a specific job role entails, and the total length of time per-shift that someone in that role carries each activity out.

The spreadsheet allows you to calculate different overall exposure scores depending on whether someone a) rotates between the activities frequently (hourly or more frequently), or b) rotates between the activities more slowly.

This tool helps you to prioritise job roles in terms of the overall exposure they generate for your employees. It  goes some way towards helping you take account of job rotation, and adjust role duties to try to reduce exposure scores.

However, there are some drawbacks with the ART Task Rotation Tool, the main one is that it doesn’t take into account the risk factors contributing to the activity exposure scores. What this means in practice, is that it does not help you to identify new activity orderings which would be lower risk (for example, separating two tasks which are ‘wrist intensive’, with a task which is ‘wrist easy and elbow intensive’). Essentially, the overall exposure score you get would be the same, whether you separated out activities with the same risk factors (lower risk) or whether you bunched them all together (higher risk).

My recommendation is if you are looking to rotate activities in job roles, use the Task Rotation Tool in combination with a separate spreadsheet that sets out the risk factor scores next to each other (activities in columns, risk factors in rows) for each activity. Then switch the activities (columns) about if necessary to make sure that consecutive activities have as few of the same moderate and / or high risk factors as possible. For example if an activity has a high risk score for arm posture, make sure that the activity immediately following, does not also have a high risk score for arm posture, and so on. Our spreadsheet – the ART Task Ordering Tool (click to download) – is a simple free tool for doing this and we have also put a short video on youtube that demonstrates how to use it (click to watch video).

Summary: The ART Task Rotation Tool is useful if  combined with   an analysis like our ART Task Ordering Tool, that ensures a minimum amount of risk factors in common between consecutive activities. 

V-MAC (Variable Manual Handling Assessment Chart)

The V-MAC spreadsheet tool (click to download) was designed by the Health and Safety Laboratory for assessing risk exposure from tasks where there are variable weights lifted or lifted and carried throughout the day – such as manual order picking, delivery work and parcel distribution work.

Once you have entered your data in the V-MAC (i.e. the weight of each individual item lifted throughout the whole shift), the V-MAC provides you with a graph that displays the number of lifts per shift of items of specific weights, and the familiar ‘risk zones’ which those loads – cumulatively – lie in.

The V-MAC also has a useful summary table underneath the graph which gives you at-a-glance information including maximum and average weights, and total load handled throughout the entire shift.

An important feature of the V-MAC are the summary bars. These are bars on the graph which indicate the cumulative risk levels associated with loads at specific places in the overall weight distribution. These take into account the cumulative fatigue which can be caused even by relatively low loads, if they are handled at high frequencies and in large numbers.

The V-MAC is an essential tool for any employer whose employees handle variable loads in relatively high numbers throughout each shift. The MAC in it’s basic form does not deal with that variation effectively which is why the V-MAC was developed. It is important to remember to still use the MAC (or any other effective manual handling risk filter) to help identify the other risk factors present in the task.

The HSE pages on the V-MAC provide further useful guidance on how to use the V-MAC and I recommend having a look through them before trying it viagra naturel pas cher.

Summary: The V-MAC is very useful if your employees are handling substantial numbers of variable loads. It provides valuable additional data analysis that helps you identify risk exposures associated with load-frequency in a variable load environment.

Note: To use the V-MAC effectively you will need the full inventory of all loads handled throughout a full shift. It might be useful to run an assessment on data from an ‘average’ shift and a shift in a busy period (e.g. in a parcel depot, in the run up to Christmas etc.)

Hopefully this is a useful introduction to these enhancements to the popular ART and MAC tool. Good luck giving them a try, and if you’ve got any questions or if you want any assistance with assessing and managing musculoskeletal risks, we look forward to hearing from you.