Pre-Conference Workshops

Workshop Venue

Harvard School of Public Health (2 blocks from the Conference Center)
Kresge Building
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

The entrance to the Kresge building is inside a courtyard as depicted above. If you are entering from Huntington Avenue, go down the passage directly in front of the HSPH street banner. Make your first right, and you will find yourself on the porch overlooking the courtyard. Continue through the revolving door and you have entered the Kresge building.

Please note: The conference venue from Monday-Thursday is the Conference Center at Harvard Medical, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur. See the hotel and travel page for directions to the Conference Center.

There will be three pre-conference workshops offered on Sunday, 26 August 2007:

The workshops will last 1/2 day. Costs are as follows:


Physical exposure assessment of hand activities (morning, 9:00am - 12:00 pm)


Exposure assessment, hand activities

Learning Objectives

  1. To learn a systematic way of collecting physical exposure data for hand activity assessment;
  2. To be able to use two documented methods to perform physical exposure assessment; and
  3. To understand the pros and cons of the methods.

Primary Instructor

Stephen Bao, PhD, CPE
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Workshop Abstract

Reducing exposure to the risk factors involved in the intensive hand activities is practiced at workplaces to reduce WMSDs. Quantification of physical exposures would help the practitioners to determine the hazard level and make decisions in terms of introducing solutions.

Participants to this workshop will be able to learn hands-on skills in performing ergonomic exposure assessment of hand activities. Two widely used methods will be discussed, including the ACGIH’s Hand Activity Level TLV (ACGIH 2005), and the Strain Index method (Moore and Garg 1995). These methods will be applied to real life cases. Participants will get opportunities in using them and compare results obtained from the methods. Discussions on using alternative ways of collecting the exposure variables, which have been suggested in these two methods, will be discussed and results will be compared. This workshop will benefit those who practice ergonomics in workplaces. Safety and health practitioners, members of joint health and safety committees, safety and health managers, ergonomists, and students who plan to do job assessment in the future will benefit from this workshop most. Previous knowledge of job analysis and physical demand analysis is not required, but will certainly help in understanding the assessment processes better.

Brief Syllabus

The workshop will cover the following may topics:

  1. Introduction to repetitive hand activities, and participant practices
  2. The ACGIH Hand Activity Level (HAL) TLV
  3. practicing the ACGIH HAL
  4. Alternative methods of collecting data for ACGIH HAL
  5. The Strain Index
  6. practicing the Strain Index method
  7. Alternative methods of collecting data for the Strain Index
  8. discussions

The workshop will have lots group discussions. Recorded jobs will be used for practices.

Online Reading Materials

The ACGIH Hand Activity Level TLV:

The Strain Index method:


ACGIH. 2005. Hand activity level. In TLVs and BEIs — Threshold limit values for chemical substances and physical agents. Cincinnati, Ohio: ACGIH.

Moore, J. S. and A. Garg, "The Strain Index: a proposed method to analyze jobs for risk of distal upper extremity disorders," Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 56 (5): 443-58 (1995)

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Surface electromyography — to identify pathophysiological mechanisms and to assess exposure (afternoon, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm)


Surface electromyography, quantitative assessment, work related musculoskeletal disorders, motor control, neuromuscular activation patterns

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives of the workshop are to gain a better understanding on:

Primary Instructors

Prof Dr. Ir. H. Hermens
Roessingh Research and Development

Prof. Nina K. Vøllestad, PhD
Section for Health Sciences
University of Oslo

Additional Instructors

M. Vollenbroek-Hutten, PhD
Roessingh Research and Development

Birgit Juul-Kristensen, PhD
Section for Health Sciences
University of Oslo

Workshop Abstract

Surface ElectroMyoGraphy (SEMG) is a powerful non-invasive and non-obtrusive tool to assess the neuromuscular function(ing). EMG is often used to assess physical workload and to identify persons with abnormal neuromuscular responses to work. A number of parameters can now be extracted from the EMG signal. Some of these reflect predominantly central nervous system activity and regulation, whereas others may reflect different muscular properties (e.g. fatigue). In addition, there has been an increasing interest in how the EMG parameters change during different types of work. Numerous experimental models are used to elucidate the relationship between EMG and musculoskeletal disorders. Through the workshop, we expect the participants to gain an insight into the various models used, how the EMG can be interpreted in relation to clinical and preventive purposes.

During the past years, specific recommendations to record and analyse the SEMG with bipolar electrodes have been developed (SENIAM), including what electrodes should be used, where to place them on the muscle and how the EMG should be processed. New methods are introduced utilising arrays of electrodes to obtain more detailed information on the control of the movement as well as muscle properties.

Most models predict abnormal muscle activation patterns in pain without being in agreement on a specific pattern. Both higher and lower activation levels are predicted and found as well as a decreased ability to relax muscles during and after a task. Methods have been developed to study muscle behaviour at the workplace and to intervene on abnormal muscle functioning by means of myofeedback.

The workshop will provide both scientific and practical understanding on how SEMG can be used for non-invasive and non-obtrusive assessment of exposure and neuromuscular functioning.

A Brief Syllabus


Group discussions

Online Reading Materials

Hermens HJ, Vollenbroek-Hutten MM. Effects of electrode dislocation on electromyographic activity and relative rest time: effectiveness of compensation by a normalisation procedure. Med Biol Eng Comput. 2004 Jul;42(4):502-8

Voerman GE, Sandsjo L, Vollenbroek-Hutten MM, Groothuis-Oudshoorn CG, Hermens HJ. The influence of different intermittent myofeedback training schedules on learning relaxation of the trapezius muscle while performing a gross-motor task. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004 Oct;93(1-2):57-64. Epub 2004 Jul 1

Vollenbroek-Hutten M, Hermens H, Voerman G, Sandsjo L, Kadefors R. Are changes in pain induced by myofeedback training related to changes in muscle activation patterns in patients with work-related myalgia? Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Jan;96(2):209-15. Epub 2004 Sep 8

Steingrímsdóttir ÓA, Knardahl S, Vøllestad NK. A prospective study of the relation between complaint severity and electromyographic responses to isometric muscle contractions. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 30(5):410-20, 2004.

Røe, C., Steingrimsdottir, O.A., Knardahl, S., Bakke, E. & Vøllestad, N.K.. Long-term repeatability of force, endurance time and muscle activity during isometric contractions. J Electromyography & Kinesiology ;16(1):103-13, 2006

Vøllestad NK, Mengshoel AM. Relationships between neuromuscular functioning, disability and pain in fibromyalgia. Disabil Rehabil. 27: 667-673, 2005

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Tendencias Actuales en la Epidemiología Musculoesqueletal [Current trends in musculoskeletal epidemiology] — in Spanish with Portuguese interpretation available (afternoon, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm)

Instructores y Miembros del Panel

Dra. Laura Punnett, Profesora
Departemento Ambiente del Trabajo (Department of Work Environment)
Universidad de Massachusetts Lowell (USA)

Maria Brunette (USA / Peru)
Manuel Cifuentes (USA / Chile)
Helenice Gil Coury (Brazil)
Lys Esther Rocha (Brazil)
Jamie Tessler (USA)

El congreso PREMUS 2007 tendrá lugar en los Estados Unidos por primera vez desde el año de 1995. En reconocimiento de las oportunidades que se originan al darse esta reunión en un área geográfica próxima a Latinoamérica, el comité organizador del evento ofrece este taller con el objetivo de proveer oportunidades a científicos e investigadores de habla hispana o portuguesa de (1) participar en un taller donde se presenten los mas recientes métodos de investigación y resultados sobre desórdenes musculoesqueletales, y (2) proveer una oportunidad a científicos e investigadores Latinoamericanos de discutir y compartir sus propios proyectos de investigación, metodologías, resultados, y retos que se les presenta.

Los desórdenes musculoesqueletales son una de las causas principales de la discapacidad del trabajador y la pérdida de productividad. A pesar de que se han realizado investigaciones extensivas en el tema, los desordenes musculoesqueletales debido al trabajo (ocupacionales) continúan siendo un problema escasamente cuantificado y regulado en el ámbito internacional. La prevención efectiva de este tipo de los desordenes musculoesqueletales requiere la participación de varias disciplinas y campos de estudio. Las características demográficas, económicas e industriales de diferentes países contribuirán al establecimiento de prioridades y desarrollo de estrategias de investigación.

El objetivo principal de este taller es el ofrecer un panorama general sobre los mas recientes métodos de investigación y resultados sobre desórdenes musculoesqueletales. El objetivo secundario es el crear un dialogo entre investigadores y estudiantes Latinoamericanos sobre recientes proyectos de investigación, sus objetivos y retos. El generar dicho dialogo en su idioma de origen será un ventaja muy beneficiosa para un intercambio de ideas efectivo. Las presentaciones del taller serán en Español; traducciones simultáneas Español-Portugues serán ofrecidas de ser necesario.

Temas a Tratar:

  1. La epidemiología de los desórdenes musculoesqueletales en países industrializados y sub-desarrollados: Que proporción del índice de prevalecencia se puede atribuir al trabajo?
  2. Evaluación de la exposición a desórdenes musculoesqueletales: Importancia de los métodos disponibles
  3. Organización del trabajo y ergonomía: Las causas principales de la exposición en el trabajo
  4. Evaluación de intervenciones en lugares de trabajo y la comunidad
  5. Oportunidades y limitaciones al usar bases de datos
  6. Retos metodológicos al realizar investigación en epidemiología esquelomusculoesqueletal (*)
  7. Genero y los desórdenes musculoesqueletales: ¿Es la distribución de los desordenes igualmente distribuida? (*)
  8. Analisis de las posibles relaciones entre salud mental y los desórdenes musculoesqueletales (*)
  9. Escribiendo publicaciones de investigación: Hipótesis de investigación y métodos (*)

* Estos temas se ofrecerán dependiendo del interés de los participantes en el taller

Objetivos de Aprendizaje

Al finalizar el taller, el participante será capaz de:

  1. Comprender y debatir sobre el estado actual de los conocimientos epidemiológicos sobre las causas ocupacionales de los desordenes musculoesqueletales, así como el impacto de la incertidumbre científica en la falta de regulaciones en la mayoría de países
  2. Identificar faltas de conocimiento en la literatura científica en desórdenes musculoesqueletales, incluyendo áreas especificas en las que investigadores Latinoamericanos tienen acceso exclusivo
  3. Identificar métodos disponibles para la evaluación de exposiciones ergonómicas, y describir las ventajas y desventajas de cada método
  4. Identificar las vías en las cuales la organización del trabajo se refleja en las relaciones entre exposiciones en el trabajo (físicas y psicosociales) y las consecuencias de utilizar ciertos métodos estadísticos
  5. Dialogar sobre las estrategias y retos en investigaciones actuales en Latinoamérica enfocadas a la prevención primaria y secundaria de desórdenes musculoesqueletales

[English translation]

Instructors and Discussants

Laura Punnett, ScD
Professor, Department of Work Environment
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Maria Brunette (USA / Peru)
Manuel Cifuentes (USA / Chile)
Helenice Gil Coury (Brazil)
Lys Esther Rocha (Brazil)
Jamie Tessler (USA)

The 2007 PREMUS meeting will be held in the Americas for the first time since 1995. In recognition of the special opportunities created by holding this meeting closer to Latin America, the Local Organizing Committee will convene this workshop as an opportunity for native Spanish and Portuguese speakers to (1) attend a workshop that presents state-of-the art research methods and findings on the epidemiology of musculoskeletal disorders in their languages, and (2) provide an opportunity for Latin American researchers to discuss their own research, initiatives and challenges.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a leading cause of worker impairment, disability, loss of productivity and disability. Although extensive research has been conducted, work-related MSDs remain a poorly quantified and regulated problem internationally. The effective prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders requires expertise from a wide variety of disciplines. The demographic, economic and industrial characteristics of different countries inform both research priorities and intervention strategies.

The primary aim of this workshop is to provide an overview of recent research trends in musculoskeletal epidemiology. The second aim is to create a forum for Latin American researchers and students to discuss current research goals, projects, and challenges in their native tongues. The formal presentations will be made in Spanish; informal simultaneous translation between Spanish and Portugese will be coordinated as necessary among participants.

Workshop Topics

  1. MSD epidemiology in industrialized and less-developed nations: How much MSD morbidity is attributable to work?
  2. Exposure assessment; relative merits of available methods
  3. Work organization and ergonomics: The root causes of occupational exposures
  4. Evaluation of interventions in worksites and communities
  5. The opportunities and limitations of using surveillance data
  6. Methodological challenges in conducting research on MSD epidemiology (*)
  7. Gender and MSDs: Is the burden equitably distributed? (*)
  8. Review of the potential relationship between mental health and MSDs (*)
  9. Writing for publication: Research hypotheses and methods (*)

* Inclusion of these topics will depend upon interest of the workshop participants

Learning Objectives

By the close of this workshop, the participant will be able to:

  1. Discuss the present level of epidemiologic knowledge as to work-relatedness of MSDs, and whether or not the lack of regulatory activity in most countries is justified by scientific uncertainty
  2. Identify gaps in the scientific literature on MSDs, including those that Latin American researchers are uniquely or particularly well positioned to address
  3. List the available methods for field assessment of ergonomic exposures, and describe the advantages and disadvantages of each
  4. Recognize the ways in which work organization underlies the relationships among occupational exposures (physical and psychosocial) and the implications of this for appropriate choice of statistical methods
  5. Discuss the strategies and challenges in current Latin American research on primary and secondary prevention of MSDS


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