Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) Tool
This bulletin provides information that is important to read and understand before using the Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) tool.
There are several videos of repetitive tasks to allow you to practise before you apply ART at your workplace.
The ART tool is available as a free download allowing you to complete your own assessment of repetitive tasks in your workplace.
What is the ART Tool?
The Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) tool is designed to help you risk assess tasks that require repetitive movement of the upper limbs (arms and hands). It assists you in assessing some of the common risk factors in repetitive work that contribute to the development of Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs).
The ART tool is intended for people with responsibility for the design, assessment, management, and inspection of repetitive work.
Repetitive tasks are typically found in assembly, production, processing, packaging, packing and sorting work, as well as work involving regular use of hand tools.
ART is not intended for Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessments.
The ART tool is a method that helps to:
- Identify repetitive tasks that have significant risks and where to focus risk reduction measures
- Prioritise repetitive tasks for improvement
- Consider possible risk reduction measures
- Meet legal requirements to ensure the health and safety of employees who perform repetitive work
How does it work?
The ART tool uses a numerical score and a traffic light approach to indicate the level of risk for twelve factors.
These factors are grouped into four stages:
- A: Frequency and repetition of movements
- B: Force
- C: Awkward postures of the neck, back, arm, wrist and hand
- D: Additional factors, including breaks and duration
The factors are presented on a flow chart, which leads you, step-by-step, to evaluate and grade the degree of risk. The tool is supported by an assessment guide, providing instruction to help you to score the repetitive task you are observing. There is also a worksheet to record your assessment.
Training is recommended to help you use the ART tool reliably and appropriately.
If you would like to find out more about the ART tool, on this website you can find:
- A walkthrough showing how the ART tool is used to score a repetitive task
- More detailed information on learning to use the ART tool
The ART tool is available to download here
Which task should be assessed first?
In many situations, you may be asked to look at a particular task and so should begin with an ART assessment of that task.
In some workplaces though there are so many repetitive tasks it is difficult to know how and where to start.
To help set priorities, you could try one of the following approaches:
- Ask a representative group of workers to review the work and identify a selection of tasks with the highest priority.
- Follow each process from start to finish and speak to workers individually.
Ask them to describe what they do and describe any difficulties they have doing the work.
- Conduct a workplace survey about pain and discomfort and focus on those activities where problems are most prevalent.
Is the task suitable for assessment with ART?
ART is most suited for tasks that:
- involve actions of the upper limbs;
- repeat every few minutes, or even more frequently; and
- occur for at least 1–2 hours per day or shift.
These are typically found with ‘assembly-line work’ or processes with high rates of production
Who needs to be involved with the assessment?
To use ART effectively, you must consult workers doing the task. Several factors can only be assessed accurately with proper input from workers who have real experience doing the task.
Consider whether people with other areas of expertise are required for the assessment. This may include other people in the company with responsibility for designing and managing the repetitive work (such as engineers, task supervisors, and safety representatives.
At what time should the assessment be made?
It is important to consider the time in the day or shift when you do an ART assessment. It is possible workers may feel the task is more demanding or report more difficulties towards the end of the shift, or after they have been doing the task for several hours. This is often a better time to do the assessment.
If you must make the assessment at the start of the shift, or when workers just begin the task, make sure you ask how they find the work towards the end.
What equipment is needed during the assessment?
ART is intended to be used with minimal equipment.
However, to make a more accurate assessment, it might be helpful to use a video camera to film some workers doing the task. This will allow you to view the task away from the work area, look closely at workers’ postures and make more accurate judgements about the time workers spend doing each element of the task.
It would also be useful to have more detailed information about the weights of any items handled and the forces applied to any objects. There are measurement tools, such as force gauges and dynamometers to take physical measures which are very helpful for collecting this type of information.
Causes of upper limb disorders at work
Upper limb disorders are more common in tasks at work that involve:
- prolonged repetitive work, particularly using the same hand or arm action
- uncomfortable or awkward working postures
- sustained or excessive force
- carrying out a task for a long time without suitable rest breaks
- working with hand-held power tools for long periods of time
Other things that may have an influence are:
- a poor working environment (including temperature and lighting)
- poor work organisation (including workload, job demands and lack of breaks)
- individual differences and vulnerability (some workers are more affected by
Workers may be more likely to suffer upper limb problems if there is more than one risk factor in their work.
Workers may have symptoms in their upper limbs such as:
- aches and pains, tenderness, weakness, tingling, numbness, cramp, burning, redness and swelling
- stiffness, pain or reduced movement in their joints
A number of disorders can affect upper limbs, such as:
- carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
- tendonitis or tenosynovitis
- cramp of the hand or forearm from prolonged periods of repetitive movement
- hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)
Some of these are reportable under RIDDOR.
Should you require any further information, clarification or assistance please contact us on
firstname.lastname@example.org or 01268 649006.