Date of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Type

Non-Thesis Project

Degree Name

MS Industrial Hygiene


Industrial Hygiene

Committee Chair

Julie Hart


This report describes the development of an ergonomic assessment strategy for a Rural Alaska mobile dental team (n=3). An examination of available peer reviewed literature was conducted to identify known physical risk factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders and the practice of dentistry. The report also explored the association between ergonomics, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and a reduction in dental sharps injury.

The known physical risk factors associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders, sharps injury prevalence data, and results from Nordic Questionnaires were collected as baseline data. A sharps injury report from January through October of 2016 was obtained from the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation to determine a dental sharps injury prevalence of 14%. A variant of the self-administered Nordic Questionnaire provided a prevalence of physical aches and pains associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders for a dental department (N=13). This data was used in a strategy to develop a decision matrix to prioritize ergonomic assessments of mobile dental team job tasks.

A manual material handling task was targeted by the decision matrix as the number one priority for ergonomic evaluation. The manual material handling evaluation included the collection of psychophysical data (n=3) using self-administered Borg intensity scales for exertion, fatigue and pain. Data analysis identified a significant difference between intensity levels of a mobile dental team’s perception of exertion compared to fatigue. Implementing proper ergonomics may prevent further escalation of fatigue during manual material handling and decrease the risk of injury.


A report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Industrial Hygiene Distance Learning / Professional Track