Occupational Requirements Survey

Gross and Fine Manipulation: Fact Sheet

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) provides information about the physical demands for civilian workers in the U.S. economy. 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 are part of the physical demands published by the ORS program. 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. Some examples of gross manipulation include:

  • teachers using a board eraser;
  • goalies turning a hockey stick;
  • welders using tin snips;
  • truck drivers operating a steering wheel and gear shift;
  • artists drawing (whether with a stylus, pencil, or some other device).

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. Some examples of fine manipulation include:

  • musicians playing a piano keyboard;
  • bartenders entering a drink order into a touch screen point-of-service system;
  • cashiers using a register with a hybrid keyboard;
  • dental hygienists using tools to scrape tartar off of a patient’s teeth;
  • scientists using a pipette to dispense a solution;
  • electricians using small tools to rewire a lamp.

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

  • receptionists making a phone call 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 a conveyer belt (gross manipulation), and then enter the serial number from the box using a touchscreen scanner (fine manipulation).

In 2018, gross manipulation was required for 99.4 percent of all civilian workers and fine manipulation was required for 97.0 percent of all civilian workers. Some examples of detailed occupations with these requirements are included in Chart A.

 

 

Chart A data table
Chart A. Percent of civilian workers by occupation and duration for gross and fine manipulation, 2018
Occupation Fine manipulation Gross manipulation

Accountants

100.0% 100.0%

Construction laborers

88.4% 100.0%

Telemarketers

88.0% 88.7%

Industrial truck and tractor operators

83.5% 100.0%

Information security analysts

67.2% 97.7%

 

The requirements of gross and fine manipulation are also provided based on whether the job requires workers to perform these physical demands using one hand or both hands. Gross manipulation is required for 99.4 percent of civilian workers, where 12.8 percent are required to use one hand and 86.6 percent are required to use both hands.

Fine manipulation is required for 97.0 percent of workers with 39.7 percent required to use one hand and 57.3 percent required to use both hands.

Generally, the sum of performing gross and fine manipulation with one hand and both hands will equal the overall requirement. For instance, the percentage of workers required to perform gross manipulation with one hand plus the percentage of workers required to perform gross manipulation with both hands should total the overall gross manipulation requirement for that job. Sometimes the total does not equal the overall requirement due to rounding or because one or both estimates are not available.

Table 1. Percent of workers by physical demand by occupation, 2018
Occupation Gross manipulation Fine manipulation
Required One hand Both hands Required One hand Both hands

Tax preparers

100.0% 63.9% - 98.9% 68.1% -

Loan officers

100.0% 53.4% - 97.4% 65.9% -

Computer programmers

96.0% 51.8% - 94.4% - -

Software quality assurance engineers and testers

97.3% 50.5% 46.8% 97.7% 63.7% -

Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders

100.0% - 100.0% 97.8% - 70.8%

Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders

100.0% - 100.0% 94.5% 35.7% 58.8%

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics

100.0% - 100.0% 100.0% - 90.3%

Food preparation workers

100.0% - 100.0% 98.4% - 78.0%

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.” See Table 2.

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

Duration: Gross manipulation

While gross manipulation is a requirement for 99.4 percent of civilian workers, the duration varies. Eight percent seldom perform gross manipulation, 38.8 percent occasionally, 31.9 percent frequently, and 20.6 percent constantly. See Chart B.

 

 

Chart B data table
Chart B. Percent of civilian workers by occupational group and duration of gross manipulation, 2018
Duration All workers Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations Office and administrative support occupations

Seldom

8.0% 2.1% 15.5%

Occasionally

38.8% 43.9% 57.5%

Frequently

31.9% 44.6% 18.6%

Constantly

20.6% 9.4% 6.7%

 

Duration: Fine manipulation

Similarly, while fine manipulation is a requirement for 97.0 percent of civilian workers, 19.0 percent of all civilian workers seldom perform fine manipulation, 60.7 percent occasionally, 15.2 percent frequently, and 2.1 percent constantly. See Chart C.

 

 

Chart C data table
Chart C. Percent of civilian workers by occupation and duration of fine manipulation, 2018
Duration All workers Food preparation and serving related occupations Office and administrative support occupations Personal care and service occupations Production occupations Transportation and material moving occupations

Not present

3.0% 2.3% 2.8% 6.0% 6.4% 9.0%

Seldom

19.0% 9.2% 22.4% 18.1% 12.9% 25.6%

Occasionally

60.7% 63.0% 63.6% 55.7% 52.7% 53.7%

Frequently

15.2% 23.1% 10.7% 13.4% 19.1% 8.7%

Constantly

2.1% 2.4% 5.0% 6.7% 8.9% 3.0%

 

Generally the sum of the duration estimates will sum 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. When this is not the case it is either due to rounding or because one or more estimates are not available.

Additional information

For more information about ORS collection processes see the collection materials. The ORS Handbook of Methods provides details on sampling methodology, calculations, weighting, and history of the ORS program. More information is available at www.bls.gov/ors.

 

Last Modified Date: April 25, 2019