The use of participatory action research and ergonomics in the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the newspaper industry.Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2000 Mar; 15(3):255-62.AO
The newspaper industry is one of many in which employees are reported to be at risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities and low back. The purpose of this 18-month demonstration project was to assess the usefulness of a participatory ergonomics process as a strategy to reduce the risk factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders at a metropolitan newspaper company. The company involved had 455 employees and a daily circulation of 75,200. Employees from both office and production areas participated. The participatory action research approach utilized required investigators to work collaboratively with the study population. Using a five-step continuous improvement process, the ergonomics committee identified and evaluated jobs having ergonomic risk factors. This was followed by the development, implementation, and evaluations of interventions aimed at reducing risk factor exposure. The committee's productivity and participant feedback were used as measures of the committee's effectiveness. During the project period, interventions were implemented in 11 of 12 targeted departments. Participant ratings of effectiveness for different aspects of the ergonomics process were generally favorable. The mean and median cost for ergonomic interventions were $376 and $25, respectively. This project demonstrated that participatory action research could be used to develop and implement ergonomic solutions that reduce the risk factors associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders.