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Job Dictionaries: A useful tool or just a compliance document?

Here at Summit Industry Health we think Job Dictionaries are worth their weight in gold.


If you don’t currently utilise these or if they have been filed away, then this blog will reinvigorate and remind you of the usefulness of this important document.


What is a Job Dictionary and how is it different from a position description?


Most people have heard of a position description as it usually accompanies a job advert. A position description will outline the tasks and duties at a high level, so someone applying for a job can see if that role may suit them.


A job dictionary on the other hand, is a detailed collection of every single task that makes up a specific job role within a workplace. They are common in physically demanding industries and roles that utilise machinery as a part of the overall task framework. A Job Dictionary is structured to go into the level of detail that describes the physicality of the work (from light through to very heavy), the physical demands of each task and the duration and repetition of each physical demand. In short, it portrays exactly what an individual must do from a physical perspective when performing each task.


What are the top 4 things you would actually use a job dictionary for?


1. Use it as part of your recruitment pathway.


A job dictionary is an effective tool to use in the Pre-Employment Medical Screening process. It further assists the assessor to determine if a candidate is physically able to safely perform all the inherent duties of the role they have applied for.


2. Support people back to work safely.


When you are helping support an employee back to work after an injury, and their treating practitioner requests an overview of what they do, you will easily be able describe the specificity of each task, ensuring a return-to-work plan can be tailored to best support the individual.


3. Create innovative wellbeing and risk management programs.


Knowledge is power and quickly knowing which roles require specific areas of physical exertion, can assist in creating well-being programs to support your team. Warm up and stretching programs can be tailored to the body areas that are predominantly in use, further supporting effective injury prevention at your workplace.


4. Streamline your induction and onboarding.


Onboard all new starters by reviewing and discussing their Job Dictionary. The job dictionary will provide a compressive instruction manual on task process and will educate the new starter on the types of machinery in their role and how machinery is integrated into the overall task process.


Who creates a job dictionary?


Industrial Allied Health professionals are experts in assessing the ecosystem within a workplace and a great choice for Job Dictionary creation. This is complemented by their in depth understanding of the dynamic each role plays as part of the overarching objectives of the organisation. Industrial Allied Health Professionals utilise their tertiary understanding of biomechanics, anatomy, physiology; coupled with their workplace industrial expertise, to develop informative and practical job dictionaries.


How is it created?


Industrial Allied Health professionals meet with and interview key staff to get a complete picture of the inherent requirements of each role. This will also include reviewing any current documentation of processes, if any are available. The assessor will observe and document how each task is completed, as it is being performed. Weights of objects and repetitions of movements will also be noted. Pushing and pulling forces and task timing of sustaining postures and manoeuvrers will additionally be captured. They will also take pictures or videos and may create charts to explain the workflow in specific detail. This process can take a couple of weeks to review and finalise.


What does a job dictionary look like?


The end product is a document that is user friendly, colourful, easy to read and jam packed with essential information.



If you need a hand with creating, updating or reviewing a job dictionary, we can help. Find out more about our WHS support and Job Dictionary information or contact us.

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