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PLIBEL (Plan för Identifiering av Belastningsfaktorer; A Method Assigned for Identification of Ergonomics Hazards)

General description and development of the method

A simple chek-list screening tool intended to highlight musculoskeletal risks in connection with workplace investigations. Time aspects, environmental factors, and organizational factors also have to be considered as modifying factors. The Swedish Work Environment Act stipulated that the employer should investigate occupational injuries, draw up action plans and organize and evaluate job modifications. Hence, it was also of interest for the Labor Inspectorate to study conditions and improvements at workplaces. PLIBEL method was designed to serve as a rapid screening tool of major ergonomic risks which may have injurious effects on the musculo-skeletal system. It has been developed in Sweden and presented in literature in 1995 (Kemmlert 1995, Kemmlert 1997, Kemmlert 2005, Kemmlert 2006).

Exposure descriptors


posture movements (external) force 'yes/no' Description of exposure magnitude/amplitude duration x . x . . . . . . . frequency x x x . .

vibration contact forces

use of vibrating tools 'yes/no'

17 risk factors in the question form of "yes / no". No numeric values given for the definition of existence of these generic risk factors. Psychosocial factors: The possibility to take breaks and pauses, the possibility to choose order and type of work tasks or pace of work, time demands and psychosocial stress, unusual or unexpected situations. Environmental factors: Presence of cold, heat, draught, noise or troublesome visual conditions, presence of jerks, shakes or vibrations.

Resource demands and usability

Equipment needed

Checklist and its use explained in publications (Kemmlert 1995, Kemmlert 2005, Kemmlert 2006). Documentation with photographs recommended.


June 2009



Process of coding and analysis

A workplace assessment using PLIBEL starts with a preliminary observation and an introductory interview with the employee. When an ergonomic hazard is observed, the numbered area on the form is ticked or a short note is made.

Output type/level (risk assessment)

In a concluding report, where the crude dichotomous registrations are arranged in order of importance, quotations from the list of ergonomic hazards may be used: In this summary, which is usually only 2-3 sentences long, descriptions related to the same problem may be combined and specifications (eg of durations or quantities) given. For the concluding report, modifying factors (eg environmental and organizational factors) should also be taken into consideration.

Criteria to help the evaluator to make decision

Existence of evaluated factors should each considered potential for changes.

Fields of the working life where the method has been used

Postmen, post assistants, cashiers, meat cutters, stone layers, trench diggers, machine superintendents, warehouse workers, millers and distributors, workers in wood industry. workers at a folding machine in a book binder, refuse collectors, laundry workers (Kemmlert 1995).


Face validity / Contents validity

Does the method seem to be valid for the aimed purpose?


1. The contents of the method is such that a relevant assessment can be expected Comments: Does not consider duration of exposures 2. Items to be observed have a sound basis Comments: Items based on reserach literature on risks 3. Sound operationalization of the items to be observed 4. Sound process to collect data Comments: Definitions given on common language but no concrete anchors are given to reduce the subjectivity 5. Sound process to get the output of the collected data Comments: Subjective "concluding report" 6. Output can help in decision making


x x x

x x


June 2009



Concurrent validity

How well does the method correspond with more valid method/s?

PLIBEL vs. AET (Kemmlert 1995)

Occurrence of 18 work characteristics at 25 workplace observations performed by one observer using AET and one using PLIBEL. Only half the items have been validated with good agreement, but the low number of observations hampers the conclusions.

"Predictive validity"

How well has the risk-estimation of the method been shown to be associated with or predicting musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)? No formal studies

Intra-observer repeatability (within observers)

No formal studies

Inter-observer repeatability (between observers) 24 observers, four work situations from video (Kemmlert 1995) (Tables 6-7)

Moderate agreement between observers.


Strengths of the method

General and simple screening tool. Broad scope of risks included

Limitations in the use of the method

Does not quantify the risk. Validity not shown. Relative low repeatability due to the subjective decisions of "no" / "yes".

To whom can this method be recommended?

To occupational safety and health practioners for general screening.


Kemmlert K. A method assigned for the identification of ergonomic hazards - PLIBEL. Appl Ergon. 1995;26(3):199-211. Kemmlert K. On the identification and prevention of ergonomic risk factors with special regard to reported occupational injuries of the musculo-skeletal system. Arbete och hälsa 1997;2:49. Kemmlert K. PLIBEL - The method assigned for identification of ergonomic hazards. In: Stanton N, Brookhuis K, Hedge A, Salas E, Hendrick HW, eds. Handbook of human factors and ergonomics methods. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press 2005: 3:1-7. Kemmlert K. PLIBEL - A method assigned for identification of ergonomic hazards. In: Marras WS, Karwowski W, eds. Fundamentals and assessment tools for occupational ergonomics. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press 2006: 40:1 - 14.


June 2009


Basic description of method

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Basic description of method