Occupational Requirements Survey

Gross and Fine Manipulation

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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 demands 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. 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 2019, gross manipulation was required for 99.9 percent of all civilian workers and fine manipulation was required for 98.4 percent of all civilian workers. Some examples of detailed occupations with these requirements are included in Chart A.

 

Chart A. Percentage of civilian workers with jobs requiring gross and fine manipulation  

 

Chart A data table
 Chart A. Percentage of civilian workers with jobs requiring gross and fine manipulation, 2019
Occupation Fine manipulation Gross manipulation

Sales managers

100.0% 100.0%

Software developers

99.4% 99.9%

Customer service representatives

95.0% 96.3%

Construction laborers

93.0% 100.0%

Dishwashers

75.6% 100.0%

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

 

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 99.9 percent of civilian workers, where 8.9 percent are required to use one hand and 91.0 percent are required to use both hands.

Fine manipulation is required for 98.4 percent of workers with 34.1 percent required to use one hand and 64.3 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, 2019
Occupation Gross manipulation Fine manipulation
Required One hand Both hands Required One hand Both hands

Software developers

99.9% 34.8% 65.2% 99.4% 56.7% 42.8%

Library technicians

100.0% - 91.2% 100.0% 44.4% 55.6%

Emergency medical technicians

100.0% - 100.0% 100.0% - 68.1%

Elementary school teachers, except special education

100.0% 14.7% 85.3% 100.0% 54.5% 45.5%

Food preparation workers

100.0% - 100.0% 99.2% - 91.0%

Cashiers

100.0% - 98.9% 100.0% 19.6% 80.4%

Tellers

100.0% - 93.1% 100.0% - 76.1%

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

100.0% - 100.0% 91.1% 20.4% 70.7%

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

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


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

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


Duration: Gross manipulation

The duration of gross manipulation varies amongst civilian workers. 4.7 percent seldom perform gross manipulation, 39.8 percent occasionally, 35.7 percent frequently, and 19.7 percent constantly. (See Chart B.)

 

Chart B. Percentage of civilian workers by occupational group and duration of gross manipulation  

 

Chart B data table
 Chart B. Percent of civilian workers by occupational group and duration of gross manipulation, 2019
Duration All workers Transportation and material moving occupations Office and administrative support occupations

Seldom

4.7% - 9.9%

Occasionally

39.8% 6.3% 72.5%

Frequently

35.7% 37.6% 15.7%

Constantly

19.7% 55.8% -

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

 

Duration: Fine manipulation

Similarly, the duration of fine manipulation varies amongst occupations. (See Chart C.)

 

Chart C. Percentage of civilian workers by occupation and duration of fine manipulation  

 

Chart C data table
 Chart C. Percent of civilian workers by occupation and duration of fine manipulation, 2019
Duration Nursing assistants General operations managers Fast food and counter workers Financial and investment analysts

Seldom

- 29.0% - 22.1%

Occasionally

87.1% 66.8% 65.8% 77.9%

Frequently

6.7% 3.9% 32.7% -

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

 

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.

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