An Ergonomic Risk Assessment of Ophthalmology Residents Using the Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) Scale

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BACKGROUND: The healthcare industry has one of the highest rates of work-related injuries. Ophthalmologists are at particularly high risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are often the result of repetitive movements, such as performing slit lamp examinations. Previous studies used the Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) scale to determine the ergonomic risk of a particular task.

OBJECTIVE: Given the long-term implications of repetitive examinations by ophthalmologists, this study aims to describe the average ergonomic risk posed to residents using the REBA scale.

METHODS: This descriptive case study assessed four ophthalmology residents performing slit lamp examinations between September 2022 and February 2023. Photographs were taken of residents performing slit lamp examinations. Total REBA scores, Score A, Score B, and the REBA scores for each participant were calculated and compared.

RESULTS: The average REBA score across all participants was 4.59 (SD±0.89). The highest score was 7.00 and the lowest was 3.00. The average Score A, representing posture for the head, leg, and trunk, was 3.54 (SD±0.74) and the average Score B, representing posture for the upper arm, lower arm, and wrist, was 3.18 (SD±1.22).

CONCLUSION: Our study found that residents are at increased risk for developing MSDs. Furthermore, variation in REBA scores between residents indicates that not all residents are at equal ergonomic risk. This highlights an opportunity for ophthalmology residency programs to implement ergonomics training into their curriculum.