Objectives This study investigated the effectiveness of the Stay@Work participatory ergonomics programme to reduce workers′ exposure to psychosocial and physical risk factors.
Methods 37 departments (n=3047 workers) from four Dutch companies participated in this cluster randomised controlled trial; 19 (n=1472 workers) were randomised to an intervention group (participatory ergonomics) and 18 (n=1575 workers) to a control group (no participatory ergonomics). During a 6 h meeting guided by an ergonomist, working groups devised ergonomic measures to reduce psychosocial and physical workload and implemented them within 3 months in their departments. Data on psychosocial and physical risk factors for low back pain and neck pain were collected at baseline and after 6 months. Psychosocial risk factors were measured using the Job Content Questionnaire and physical risk factors using the Dutch Musculoskeletal Questionnaire. Intervention effects were studied using multilevel analysis.
Results Intervention group workers significantly increased on decision latitude (0.29 points; 95% CI 0.07 to 0.52) and decision authority (0.16 points; 95% CI 0.04 to 0.28) compared to control workers. However, exposure to awkward trunk working postures significantly increased in the intervention group (OR 1.86; 95% CI 1.15 to 3.01) compared to the control group. No significant differences between the intervention and control group were found for the remaining risk factors. After 6 months, loss to follow-up was 35% in the intervention group and 29% in the control group.
Conclusion Participatory ergonomics was not effective in reducing exposure to psychosocial and physical risk factors for low back pain and neck pain among a large group of workers.
Trial registration ISRCTN27472278.
- Participatory ergonomics
- risk factors
- back pain
- neck pain
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Funding This study was funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw).
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Medical Ethics Committee of the VU University Medical Center.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.