Observation & Data Collection

Observation & Data Collection

The following steps are completed for Observation & Data Collection:

Determine Job Purpose & Tasks

Knowing the job purpose or objective will be helpful to accurately document the job during observation. It will guide the observation and data collection by having a high level view of the tasks required to fulfill the job requirements. Often this information can come from a job description from Human Resources or other documents within the organization.

Verify Purpose & Tasks

In order to verify the job purpose and tasks performed in the job, the tasks must be observed and captured while they are performed. If the job is cyclical, it should be observed for several cycles to ensure the entire sequence of tasks is documented. Non-cyclical jobs become more challenging to verify all tasks. Most often the tasks that are identified during the observation should be discussed with the worker and supervisor in order to verify that they are accurate. Types of tasks include lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, gripping, walking, climbing, talking, reading, writing, etc.

Quantify Physical Demands

Using appropriate tools, all of the physical aspects of each task must be measured and documented. Common measures include force or load, distance, frequency, and duration of a task. It is important that the measurements are objective and not based on the individual worker being observed. The measures should be the same regardless of the worker performing the tasks.

Some Common Measures

  • Weight lifted, carried or lowered
  • Tools used by worker
  • Distance walked
  • Force used to push or pull
  • Frequency of task performed
  • Distance reached for object, control or tool

Classify Essential & Non-Essential Tasks

Once all of the tasks have been identified and verified, each should be classified into essential and non-essential tasks. The definitions of essential and non-essential are:



Tasks or duties that are deemed to be very important, necessary or vital to the job or service.

Other synonyms include: critical, fundamental, integral, crucial, indispensable or imperative.

Tasks or duties that are not an integral part of the job or service; they may be shared by other workers within the organization.

Other synonyms include: peripheral, accessory, incidental, or supplementary.