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Occupational Requirements Survey

Gross and fine manipulation

PDF version

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) publishes job-related information on physical demands; environmental conditions; education, training, and experience; as well as cognitive and mental requirements. The job requirements reflect those necessary for workers to perform critical tasks in support of the critical job functions, and not the capabilities of individual workers. Gross and fine manipulation estimates are physical demand requirements. Where possible, the ORS program provides whether one or both hands are necessary to perform gross and fine manipulation as well as the duration associated with each job requirement by occupation.

Gross manipulation is defined as seizing, holding, grasping, turning, or otherwise working with hand(s). This includes instances when fingers are used as an extension of the hand to hold or operate a tool.

 

Examples of gross manipulation include:

  • teachers using board erasers;

  • goalies turning hockey sticks;

  • welders using tin snips;

  • truck drivers operating steering wheels and gear shifts.

Fine manipulation is defined as picking, pinching, touching or otherwise working primarily with fingers rather than the whole hand or arm. The ORS program considers the job requirement of entering data on traditional keyboards or 10-key pads as a keyboarding requirement, as this is excluded from fine manipulation.

 

Examples of fine manipulation include:

  • musicians playing pianos or keyboards;

  • bartenders entering drink orders into touch screen point-of-service systems;

  • cashiers using a register with hybrid keyboards;

  • dental hygienists using tools to scrape tartar off of patients’ teeth;

  • scientists using pipette to dispense solutions;

  • electricians using small tools to rewire lamps.

There are many situations where multiple physical demands are performed concurrently, including both gross and fine manipulation. The ORS program captures these requirements separately. Some examples of both requirements being present include:

  • receptionists making phone calls may include gross manipulation (holding the receiver with one hand) and fine manipulation (dialing the phone with the other hand);

  • cashiers ringing up customers may include gross manipulation (moving product off conveyer belt) and fine manipulation (returning change and receipt);

  • warehouse clerks may have to lift boxes off conveyer belts (gross manipulation), and then enter the serial numbers from boxes using touchscreen scanners (fine manipulation);

  • writing is included in both gross and fine manipulation.

In 2021, gross manipulation was required for 99.9 percent of all civilian workers and fine manipulation was required for 98.6 percent of civilian workers. (See Chart A.)

gross_and_fine_manipulation_chartA  
Chart A data table
Chart A. Percent of civilian workers by occupation and duration for gross and fine manipulation, 2021
Fine manipulation Gross manipulation

Customer service representatives

96.5% 96.3%

Software developers

99.3% 99.5%

Dishwashers

87.7% 100.0%

Construction laborers

94.1% 100.0%

Sales managers

99.7% 100.0%

All workers

98.6% 99.9%

 

Included in the gross and fine manipulation requirements is whether jobs require workers to perform these physical demands using one hand or both hands. Generally, the sum of performing gross and fine manipulation with one hand and both hands will equal the overall requirement. For example, 100 percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners required gross manipulation and all these workers required both hands to perform gross manipulation. Fine manipulation was required for 96.0 percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners with one hand required for 22.4 percent and both hands required for 73.6 percent. Sometimes the total does not equal the overall requirement due to rounding or because one or both estimates are not available, which occurs if they do not meet publication criteria or there are no workers with the requirement.

Table 1. Percent of workers by physical demand by occupation, 2021
Occupation Gross manipulation Fine manipulation
Required One hand Both hands Required One hand Both hands

Software developers

99.5 39.0 60.5 99.3 53.9 45.4

Chief executives

100.0 29.4 70.6 99.7 52.0 47.7

Computer and information systems managers

99.7 37.7 62.1 100.0 72.9 27.1

Elementary school teachers, except special education

99.9 13.5 86.4 99.9 45.2 54.6

Food preparation workers

100.0 - 100.0 99.7 9.0 90.7

Cashiers

100.0 - 99.6 100.0 18.3 81.7

Security guards

100.0 10.7 89.3 99.8 35.7 64.2

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

100.0 - 100.0 96.0 22.4 73.6

Note: Dash indicates no workers in this category or data did not meet publication criteria.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

Duration estimates

Gross and fine manipulation duration estimates are categorized by portion of the workday spent performing these physical demands. For example, if over the course of an 8 hour workday (480 minutes) workers lift boxes for less than 5 minutes, gross manipulation would be classified as “seldom,” assuming no other gross manipulation is performed. However, if they lifted boxes for 1 hour each work day, then gross manipulation occurs “occasionally.”

Generally the sum of the duration estimates sums to the overall requirement (gross and fine manipulation). Additionally, the sum of the duration estimates and the not present estimate generally sum to 100 percent.

Table 2. Duration estimates: Amount of the workday spent performing physical demands
Duration Amount of work day

Seldom

Up to 2 percent of the workday

Occasionally

2 percent up to 1/3 of the workday

Frequently

1/3 up to 2/3 of the workday

Constantly

2/3 or more of the workday

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

The duration of gross and fine manipulation varies amongst occupations. For example, 8.1 percent of office clerks seldom performed gross manipulation, 65.7 percent of construction managers did occasionally, 64.3 percent of dental assistants did frequently, and 40.3 percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners did constantly. Fine manipulation was performed seldom by 24.8 percent of office clerks, occasionally by 72.6 percent of construction managers and frequently by 37.7 percent of dental assistants.

gross_and_fine_manipulation_chartB  
Chart B data table
Chart B. Percentage of workers by occupation and duration of gross manipulation, 2021
Seldom Occasionally Frequently Constantly

Office clerks, general

8.1% 80.2% 11.5% -

Construction managers

- 65.7% 32.0% -

Dental assistants

- 22.5% 64.3% 13.2%

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

- 13.3% 46.3% 40.3%

 

gross_and_fine_manipulation_chartC  
Chart C data table
Chart C. Percentage of workers by occupation and duration of fine manipulation, 2021
Seldom Occasionally Frequently

Office clerks, general

24.8% 73.1% 1.9%

Construction managers

24.0% 72.6% -

Dental assistants

- 58.8% 37.7%

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

16.6% 66.0% 13.4%

 

Additional resources:

 

Articles:

For additional information on occupational requirements see the ORS homepage or download the ORS complete dataset to explore the latest estimates.