Session Type: Abstract Submissions (ARHP)
Musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS), such as pain, numbness or cold, are common and distressing occurrences during computer use. One commonly used method to reduce MSS is workstation redesign which aims to “fit the workstation to the worker” and thereby reduce awkward postures. However, recent systematic reviews have reported that this method may not be effective . This pilot study tested if a systematic method of workstation redesign which focused on 19 areas where mismatch could occur combined with active involvement of the worker in the development of the workstation redesign intervention plan (personalized ergonomics) would reduce or eliminate MSS one month after intervention.
This was a single group pretest/posttest study that examined 26 computer operators with self-reported computer related MSS of at least 2 in one body area (neck/shoulder, arm/wrist, hand) on a scale of 0 to 10 (with 0 being no pain and 10 the worst possible). Workers completed an MSS survey, as well as a self-assessment of their workstation set-up, the Computer Ergonomic Survey (CES), and were photographed in their computer workstations. An expert in workstation redesign used the results of the CES and photographs to identify in which of the 19 areas mismatch occurred. The expert and the computer operator then developed an intervention plan to rectify these mismatches. Workers implemented this plan over a one month period. Workers then completed the MSS survey again. They also rated their satisfaction with the workstation redesign process.
The 26 computer operators mean age was 46.4 (±10.5). They were primarily female (92%) and used a computer, on average, 6.0 (±1.2) hours per day. There were significant reductions in MSS for all body areas on both the left and right sides. Reductions in MSS achieved clinically important levels of at least 1 point for the neck/shoulder (left -1.23; right – 1.08), and right hand (1.01). Many subjects reported complete elimination of MSS at follow-up: neck/shoulder – left 35%, right 31%; arm/wrist – left 27%, right 46%; hand – left 27%, right 35%. This change was significant for the left arm/wrist and both hands. The changes reported to have the greatest effect on MSS were: adjusting the chair height to ensure that the feet were well supported (29%), adjusting the monitor height to reduce head tilt (18%), and adjusting the arm support height to support the arm during computer use (18%). Ninety-five percent of subjects reported that they were satisfied with the recommended changes, and 100% reported that they found the process to be helpful and they felt empowered to be able to continue to adjust their workstation to continue reducing MSS.
This study suggests that a systematic method of computer workstation redesign combined with worker involvement lead to significant improvements in computer-related MSS.
1. Kennedy CA, Amick BC, Dennerlein JT, et al. Systematic review of the role of occupational health and safety interventions in the prevention of upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms, signs, disorders, injuries, claims and lost time. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 2010;20:127-62.
N. A. Baker,
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/the-effect-of-a-systematic-personalized-computer-workstation-redesign-on-musculoskeletal-symptoms/