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OTHY102 Musculoskeletal Structure and Function for Occupational Therapy

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Occupational therapists play a key role in enabling occupational participation of individuals in their work, home and community environments informed by occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation and the principles of ergonomic design.

In this unit students will gain an understanding of risk management processes informed by OHS legislation in Australia. Work related determinants of health are introduced to allow students to understand how work can impact physical, psychological and cognitive health and wellbeing. Students will develop a range of skills required to identify, assess and control health and safety risks using risk management principles. Students will participate in 10 hours of fieldwork to demonstrate these skills.

The overall aim of this unit is to develop students' knowledge of the risk management process informed by OHS legislation and apply principles of ergonomic design within occupational therapy settings in the workplace, community and home.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify hazards, assess risk, and implement controls in a range of environments to maximise occupational performance; (GA5)

LO2 - Describe and contextualise the principles used to modify the physical and cognitive work environment to optimise occupational performance; (GA5)

LO3 - Identify and evaluate the impact of occupational therapy applied ergonomic interventions on participation in a range of environments; (GA4, GA8)

LO4 - Explain the principles behind an occupational health and safety intervention and apply them within a work context. (GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

Occupational Therapy Board of Australia Competency Standards (OTBCS) 2018

Occupational Therapy Board of Australia Competency Standards (OTBCS) 2018 developed within this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism 

An occupational therapist practises in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment. 

An occupational therapist: 

1.1 Complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia's standards, guidelines and Code of conduct

1.2 Adheres to legislation relevant to practice

1.5 Practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups

1.7 Collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice

1.8 Adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice

1.9 Identifies and manages the influence of her/his values and culture on practice

1.10 Practises within limits of her/his own level of competence and expertise

3, 4

Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning 

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning. 

An occupational therapist:

2.1 Applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice

2.8 reflects on practice to inform current and future reasoning and decision- making and the integration of theory and evidence intopractice.

1, 2, 3, 4

Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice 

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centred for individuals, groups, communities and populations. 

An occupational therapist: 

3.1 Addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement

3.3 Collaborates with the client and relevant others to determine the priorities and occupational therapy goals

3.6 Seeks to understand and incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples’ experiences of health, wellbeing and occupations encompassing cultural connections

3.7 Reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and decision-making

3.8 Identifies and uses practice guidelines and protocols suitable to the practice setting or work environment

1, 2, 3, 4

Standard 4 - Communication 

Occupational therapists practise with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others. 

An occupational therapist: 

4.5 Complies with legal and procedural requirements for the responsible and accurate documentation, sharing and storage of professional information and records of practice.

4.7 Obtains informed consent for practice and information-sharing from the client or legal guardian

3, 4


Topics will include:

An introduction to Occupational Health and Safety (OH & S) legislation

  • Overview of OH&S Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice
  • Injury reporting and recording systems including legal obligations
  • The principles of an OHS Management System 

An introduction to Risk management

  • Overview of the risk management process
  • Work related determinants of health
  • Hazard identification
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk control 
  • Intervention and review of controls


An introduction to Ergonomics

  • Systems approach to ergonomics
  • Applied anthropometry 
  • Assessment of job demands, functional capacity, occupational performance and the environment
  • Ergonomics at work, in the home and community
  • Application of ergonomic theory, data, principles and methods to optimise system and occupational performance

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit include lectures, practical sessions, case studies and self-directed learning including 10 hours of fieldwork experience. Consistent with adult learning principles the teaching and learning strategies used within these modes of delivery students will construct knowledge with application of authentic occupational therapy related learning scenarios. These learning and teaching strategies allow students the opportunity to gain an understanding of theory and demonstrate practical application of skills.

The lectures will provide a framework for the content of this unit, situated within and occupational therapy practice context. The tutorials will provide opportunity for experiential learning to further contextualise the use of OHS risk management and ergonomic design principles to modify the work environments to health and well-being.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit will include lectures, tutorials and independent fieldwork. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner.

It is very important that you complete the necessary preparation for each lecture and tutorial. You must bring the correct resources, do the readings and complete any preparation tasks as directed to enable you to effectively engage in the learning.

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. These assessment procedures include: 1 individual written report (Assessment 1); one group presentation (Assessment 2); and 1 written exam (Assessment 3)  

Assessment 1: Students are required to write an individual report on findings and recommendations from a computer workstation assessment conducted in the field (workplace assessment 1). This assessment allows students to develop their skills in interviewing, observation and report writing within the context of identification, assessment and control of risks in an authentic computer workstation environment. 

Assessment 2: In groups of 4 students present their findings and recommendations from a manual handling risk assessment conducted in the field (workplace assessment 2). This assessment allows students to work collaboratively to develop their skills in interviewing, observation and negotiation in order to conduct and report on a hazardous manual handling risk assessment in an authentic work environment.  

Assessment 3: Complete a written exam comprised of multiple choice and short answer questions. The multiple choice questions examine students’ overall knowledge of OHS legislation, risk management processes and principles for ergonomic design. The short answer questions assess students’ application of knowledge in relation to work related case studies

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Computer based workstation assessment report (Individual report)

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to assess, document and make recommendations using clinical reasoning and evidence based approaches.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Occupational Health & Safety group presentation and handout

Enables students to demonstrate skills in working collaboratively, and applying critical thinking and presentation skills. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

2 hour written examination

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding and application of core learning undertaken in the unit including materials from lectures, tutorials and preparatory readings.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA9

1. Online  Multiple Choice Test (preparation for assessment 2 & 3)


LO1, LO3

GA4, GA5

2. Completion of 10 hours fieldwork with submission of timesheets


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8

3. Submit group oral presentation contribution log

a)   Statement of contribution

b)   Oral presentation contribution log


Representative texts and references

Archer, R., Borthwick, K., Travers, M., & Ruschena, L. (2020). WHS A management guide (6th.ed.). Cengage Learning Australia 

Bahn, S. (2014). OHS management: Contemporary issues in Australia (1st ed.). Prahran VIC: Tilde University Press.

Bridger, R.S. (2009). Introduction to ergonomics (3rd ed.). London: Taylor & Francis

Grandjean, E., & Kroemer, K. H. E.(2014). Fitting the Task To The Human. A Textbook of Occupational Ergonomics(5th ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. 

Jacobs, K. (2008). Ergonomics for therapists (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier Health Sciences. 

HaSPA (Health and Safety Professionals Alliance) (2012). The Core Body of Knowledge for Generalist OHS Professionals. Retrieved from:

Salvendy, G. (2012). Handbook of human factors and ergonomics. John Wiley & Sons.

Stein, F., Soderback, I., Cutler, S.K., & Larson, B. (2006) Occupational therapy and ergonomics: applying ergonomic principles to everyday occupation in the home and at work. London: Whurr Publishers

Standards Australia (2013). Retrieved from

Townsend, E. A., & Polatajko HJ. (2013) Enabling Occupation II: Advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being & justice through occupation. Ottawa, Ontario: CAOT Publications ACE.

Wilson, J. R., & Sharples, S. (Eds.). (2015). Evaluation of human work. CRC press.

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