Graduation Date

5-2012

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, Ed.D., OTR/L

First Reader

Janice Davis, Ph.D., OTR/L

Abstract

Social enterprises aim to be agents of recovery for consumers of mental health services but lack knowledge of how to accurately identify workplace supports, accommodations, and modifications that are appropriate for their clients. Graduate occupational therapy students were contacted to assist with an activity analysis at a food processing facility that serves persons with mental illnesses. Occupational therapy is well suited to assist with task analysis and consult on work environments for persons with mental illnesses. In three sessions over five months a task-oriented analysis of work tasks at a food processing facility that employed people with mental illnesses was conducted. In the first visit project managers conducted an initial interview of workers and supervisors and observed work tasks. They then presented a report of the findings that included recommendations for modifying tools for safety and ways to improve communication between workers and supervisors. In the second visit, project managers identified the physical aspects of the job tasks that could cause musculoskeletal injuries and collaborated with workers to alter the physical environment to improve task ergonomics. In the final session, workers and supervisors were filmed and photographed performing tasks with and without new modifications of the work environment. The product of the analysis was a report that made recommendations to improve food processing safety and an educational manual that provided resources on best practices for hiring and retaining employees with mental illnesses. Managers of the social enterprise said that they strongly agreed with the statement that they anticipated the manual and report would help them to hire or retain employees in the future.

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