What is a Job Dictionary?

A Job Dictionary [or ‘occupational dictionary’] is a document containing detailed information regarding the tasks completed in a workplace or an organisation and is a key work health and safety [WHS] management tool. It profiles the specific tasks associated with each work role, based on detailed job and task analysis. Job and task analysis is a process by which an individual evaluates a job (and its specific components) and makes definitive statement about that job – it’s risks, it’s requirements and it’s productivity – in order to facilitate administrative planning and management processes. The resulting document contains photographs and a description of each work role within an organisation and its associated tasks, in addition to a summary of the physical and other requirements of each task. It provides objective information, which can be used by employers or medical and allied health professionals, to understand the physical and other requirements of each work role and helps to identify potential hazards and risks associated with the work.

Over the past three decades, we have developed an industry-leading method for developing Job Dictionaries that helps employers to reduce and manage workplace injuries. To achieve its potential, an occupational dictionary must be built on a job and task analysis that is focused on data collection with an understanding of and commitment to ergonomic principles, risk management, the biopsychosocial model and disability prevention (see key concepts for job dictionaries and WHS below). We offer a unique, proprietary, industry leading and evidence-based assessment process and reporting system that guarantees this focus and achieves the required outcome. Our approach includes the understanding, relevance and application of anthropometric data and ergonomic guides (e.g. safe weights, forces and reach distances) in the job and task assessment and reporting process. Our Job Dictionary now offers for the first time, a fully digital Job Dictionary database with electronic reports, stored and accessed electronically from a computer system, in addition to the standard electronic reports with digital photographs in a PDF format or hard copy printed reports.

Our assessment method and reporting system was developed by Specialist Occupational Health Physiotherapist, Richard Fuller [FACP]. Richard is the developer and presenter of the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Level 2 training program in ‘Job and Task Analysis’ that has been run across Australia for the past 5 years. The key outcome for this training program is competency in the ability to deliver an organisational job dictionary.

Aim Physiotherapy and Work Health Solutions have extensive experience in managing and conducting job and task analysis projects including mining, construction, manufacturing, healthcare, transport and logistics, maintenance and security. From large multi-site projects to a single job analysis for an injured worker, our standardised processes and work health expertise result in efficient and accurate data collection and timely reports in a consistent format that can be instantly understood and interpreted by Doctors, workers and workplace managers.

Our job dictionary service is delivered by appropriately trained and qualified professionals, experienced in ergonomics and task analysis (refer to bio of leading resource). The accurate and relevant job and task information contained within the job dictionary helps to embed health and safety management into all operational aspects of an organisation.

A ‘job dictionary’ is a key human resources management and injury management tool with wide ranging application and far reaching implications for business success, and in particular, for the management of work health and safety [WHS] in any organisation. When founded on accurate job and task data, a job dictionary is critical for assisting individuals and employers to identify potential health and safety problems and to develop, implement and manage programs that maintain the productivity, work ability, safety and health of workers.  This comprehensive document can be used to identify suitable duties for injured workers, and is particularly useful when liaising with doctors to establish return to work programs for injured workers.

Identified uses of or applications for a job dictionary include:

  1. Job and task design and legal compliance
  2. Staff recruitment and selection based on job requirements, including the development of hiring parameters and qualifications [e.g. Identification of the physical and other demands of the work, experience and education needed to successfully perform the duties)
  3. Allocation of workers to suitable work
  4. Description of job for new or transferring employees
  5. Determining, developing or Implementing modified work or reasonable accommodations for workers with disability and limitations
  6. Basis for development of functional job related pre-work screens
  7. Workload and performance management, including identification of key performance indicators (KPI’s)
  8. Wage and salary decisions and career development
  9. Staff training and training needs analysis
  10. Guiding decisions on purchasing  equipment and facilities
  11. Reliability assessment (error assessment/prediction)  [Rausand, M. 1998]
  12. Accident investigation
  13. Ageing workforce management
  14. Risk management
  15. Organisational and safety culture development

Our experienced therapists will attend your workplace to complete a thorough job and task analysis.  The amount of time required to complete the assessment will vary, depending on the number of work roles, and the physical and other requirements of each task.  We will provide you with an estimate of time required prior to commencement of the assessment. We will take photographs of your employees completing work tasks.

Following completion of the assessment, you will be provided with a comprehensive document outlining all physical and other demands required for the completion of each work role. This contains information about physical loads or forces, movements and postures that workers are exposed to, the environmental conditions for completing work tasks and the tools and equipment used in undertaking the work.

Please note that job dictionary is not a manual tasks audit, a hazard register or a musculoskeletal risk assessment and therefore will not include information regarding injury risk or the hierarchy of injury prevention. However, the information contained within the job dictionary provides the basic information required for undertaking these next steps in the injury prevention and injury management continuum.

We will assess each role in your organisation and develop documentation based on industry best-practice for all tasks. If you would like more information or to request the development of a job dictionary for your workplace, simply contact us today on 08 8331 1557.

There are a number of benefits in having aim Physiotherapy and Work Health Solutions provide a job dictionary for your workplace. Our job dictionaries are an invaluable resource that will:

  • Provide clear documentation of the physical and other demands required of your employees in all areas of your workplace.
  • Assist in the identification of suitable duties for injured workers or any workers with specific functional limitations.
  • Provide an easy to follow document that can be interpreted by doctors and management to assist with return to work planning and other management and administrative processes.
  • Allows medical and allied health professionals to make informed decisions, and tailor quantifiable programs to facilitate an early and sustainable return to work.
  • Makes the identification of suitable duties and the development of return to work plans for injured workers easier.
  • Provides clear information on the specific duties an employee can perform.
  • Assist in the development of a pre-employment screening process aimed at preventing workplace injuries.
  • Ensure your pre-employment assessments are based on real and objective data,
  • Facilitates targeted injury prevention initiatives based on job roles and risks.


  1. Ergonomics is a whole of system approach, focusing on “interactions among humans & other elements of a system and design, to optimise human well-being and system performance.” (International Ergonomics Association Council, 2000). This approach includes the understanding, relevance and application of anthropometric data and ergonomic guides [e.g. safe weights, forces and reach distances]. The ergonomics framework (adapted from Grey, S., Norris, B., & Wilson, J. (1987) includes the people, tasks, equipment, environment, work organisational and company culture. Occupational dictionaries and risk assessments must include an analysis of job and task demands, hazards and risks with consideration of all factors within the ergonomics framework. This allows risk management and ergonomic solutions to identified problems to include the full spectrum of job and task design or redesign options.


  1. risk managementapproach is relevant to both injury preventionand injury management. It is hard to focus on improving safety with work performance if you don’t actually know what demands are involved with the work performed and what risks are associated with these demands. A detailed analysis of job and task demands allows adequate identification of risk exposures encompassing all relevant physical and psychosocial factors. Only then can effective risk management become a realistic and ongoing prospect for organisations. (Ref: AS/NZS ISO 31000 2009)


  1. The biopsychosocial model recognises that multiple factors influence health, safety, injury, disability, pain, function and return to work and dictates that job dictionaries and risk management processes for WHS must consider physical and psychosocial job demands and hazards (Butler and Moseley, 2003).


  1. A job dictionary is the foundation for the development of a positive organisational and safety culture. Safety culture relates to the values and beliefs of individuals and organisations. It results from a combination of organisational “cultures” which includes: (1) An informedculture; (2) a reporting culture (3) a just culture; (4) a learning culture. These aspects of safety culture require an understanding and application of job and task information. A key element of safety culture is the manner in which an organisation disseminates the correct information about risks and hazards. An occupational dictionary is the foundation for the development of a positive organisational and safety culture. It helps an organization to focus on shared and individual responsibility, healthy work design and healthy choices and behaviours.


  1. A job dictionary is also recognised as an important tool to help address issues relating to an ageing workforce, with suitable ergonomic analysis and intervention. Ageing workersface specific occupational health and safety concerns. Strategies to minimise age-related problems and help older workers maintain their health and productivity, begin with young workers and continue throughout their working lives. The workplace affords the best community opportunity for health promotion and maintenance in working adults. (The ageing Australian workforce – APA Position Statement, 2010). Physiotherapists are able to positively impact on the health outcomes and productivity of working Australians by working with individual clients of working age, workgroups and employers through a range of strategies and targeted interventions. APA specialist and titled Occupational Health Physiotherapists have a high level of expertise and experience for assisting individuals and employers to identify potential health and safety problems and develop, implement and manage programs to maintain the work ability and health of ageing Australian workers.

Call the office today on 08 8331 1557 or email us at admin@aimphysio.on.net to find out how we can help you.