The first objective of this paper is to compare the observation procedures proposed to characterize physical work. The second objective is to examine the following 3 methodological issues: reliability, observer training, and internal validity. Seventy-two papers were reviewed, 38 of which proposed a new or modified observation grid. The observation variables identified were broken down into 7 categories as follows: posture, exertion, load handled, work environment, use of feet, use of hands, and activities or tasks performed. The review revealed the variability of existing procedures. The examination of methodological issues showed that observation data can be reliable and can present an adequate internal validity. However, little information about the conditions necessary to achieve good reliability was available.
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