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The relationship among computer work, environmental design, and musculoskeletal and visual discomfort: examining the moderating role of supervisory relations and co-worker support

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Abstract

Purpose

The prevalence of work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders and visual symptoms reported in the USA has increased dramatically during the past two decades. This study examined the factors of computer use, workspace design, psychosocial factors, and organizational ergonomics resources on musculoskeletal and visual discomfort and their impact on the safety and health of computer work employees.

Methods

A large-scale, cross-sectional survey was administered to a US manufacturing company to investigate these relationships (n = 1259). Associations between these study variables were tested along with moderating effects framed within a conceptual model.

Results

Significant relationships were found between computer use and psychosocial factors of co-worker support and supervisory relations with visual and musculoskeletal discomfort. Co-worker support was found to be significantly related to reports of eyestrain, headaches, and musculoskeletal discomfort. Supervisor relations partially moderated the relationship between workspace design satisfaction and visual and musculoskeletal discomfort.

Conclusion

This study provides guidance for developing systematic, preventive measures and recommendations in designing office ergonomics interventions with the goal of reducing musculoskeletal and visual discomfort while enhancing office and computer workers’ performance and safety.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Gabi Kernan, Margaret Rothwell, and Susan Jeffries for their technical edits of this manuscript and Angela DiDomenico, Lauren Murphy, Gloria Foley, and Marvin Dainoff of LMRIS for their review and comments.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Michelle M. Robertson.

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Robertson, M.M., Huang, Yh. & Larson, N. The relationship among computer work, environmental design, and musculoskeletal and visual discomfort: examining the moderating role of supervisory relations and co-worker support. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 89, 7–22 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-015-1046-x

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