Workplace intervention associated changes in office environment and worker-environment interface indicators at a large newspaper

Researcher(s): 

Cole D, Van Eerd D, Wells R, Chen C, Hogg-Johnson S

Abstract: 

Objective: To track changes in office work environment characteristics and environment-worker interface measures during a workplace intervention at a large newspaper.

Methods: Among a cohort of 33 office workers, we obtained yearly measurements (1999-2001) of work environment (observed equipment dimensions, work organization) and interfaces (observed postures, perceived workstation optimality of equipment placement) and video-based analysis of office tasks). For assessing change across years, general linear mixed models were used for continuous measures and generalized estimating equations for categorical measures.

Results: Changes were noted in: some workstation dimensions e.g. decreases keyboard depth from table edge; some work organization factors e.g. fewer respondents sitting continuously >2 hours; many posture measures e.g. reduced wrist/ulnar deviation angles; and optimality e.g. keyboard placement. Increases were observed in keyboard to seat heights and in the number of employees mousing and the proportion of time spent mousing. Pain prevalence and intensity decreased but not significantly.

Conclusions: Improvements are possible in office work-environments but they must be closely monitored to assess heterogeneous impacts. Changes in symptoms are less likely among long standing workers given the persistence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.