Reducing musculoskeletal burden through ergonomic program implementation in a large newspaper

  • Donald C. Cole
  • Sheilah Hogg-Johnson
  • Michael Manno
  • Selahadin Ibrahim
  • Richard P. Wells
  • Sue E. Ferrier
  • The Worksite Upper Extremity Research Group
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00420-006-0107-6

Cite this article as:
Cole, D.C., Hogg-Johnson, S., Manno, M. et al. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2006) 80: 98. doi:10.1007/s00420-006-0107-6

Abstract

Objectives: To assess the impact of a workplace ergonomic program to reduce musculoskeletal burden among newspaper employees and to understand relationships among participation, risk factor changes and health status within an employee cohort. Methods: We conducted repeat cross-sectional surveys, with 1,003 employees from all major departments in 1996 and 813 in 2001, generating a cohort of 433 participants in both surveys. Elements of the ergonomic program included employee RSI (repetitive strain injury) training, pro-active assessment of workstations and workstation modifications, and encouragement of early treatment through on-site physiotherapy. Potential risk factors included biomechanical and work organizational aspects of office work. Health status measures included pain intensity and the Work-Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH). Repeat cross-sectional analyses incorporated modifications for shared variance. For the cohort, a theory of change informed path analyses using MPLUS. Results: Among respondents in 2001, 69% reported participation in RSI training and 56% had workstation assessments. Among those with pain, 57% had consulted a health practitioner, including the on-site physiotherapist. In repeat cross-sectional analyses, the proportion reporting moderate pain or worse, at least once per month or for longer than 1 week, declined from 20 to 16% (p=0.01). Among the cohort, pain intensity and work disability in 1996 were the strongest predictors of 2001 health status (both p<0.001). Stable or increased supervisor awareness and concern about RSI was associated with decreased pain in 2001(p<0.01). Participation in RSI training was associated with increases in decision latitude (p<0.05), which themselves were associated with decreased work disability in 2001 (p<0.05). Increased time mousing was associated with increases in work disability (p<0.05). Conclusions: Implementation of a worksite ergonomics program was associated with a reduction in frequent and severe pain in the workforce. Changes in work disability were affected by multiple factors.

Keywords

Repetitive strain injury/cumulative trauma disorders Longitudinal study Path models Disability Program evaluation 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald C. Cole
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sheilah Hogg-Johnson
    • 1
  • Michael Manno
    • 2
    • 4
  • Selahadin Ibrahim
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard P. Wells
    • 3
  • Sue E. Ferrier
    • 1
  • The Worksite Upper Extremity Research Group
  1. 1.Institute for Work and HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.St. Michael’s HospitalsTorontoCanada

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