Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2005;31(3):191-204    pdf


Implementation of participatory ergonomics intervention in construction companies

by van der Molen HF, Sluiter JK, Hulshof CTJ, Vink P, van Duivenbooden C, Holman R, Frings-Dresen MHW

Objectives The effectiveness of the implementation of participatory ergonomics intervention to reduce physical work demands in construction work was studied.

Methods In a cluster randomized controlled trial, 10 bricklaying companies were randomly assigned either to an intervention group (N=5) or a control group (N=5). The intervention strategy used a consultant-guided six-step approach in which company stakeholders participated. Bricklayers and bricklayers’ assistants in the intervention group (N=65) and the control group (N=53) were followed for 6 months, and their use of four ergonomic measures (adjusting work height when picking up bricks and mortar, adjusting work height for bricklaying at a wall side, mechanizing brick transport, and mechanizing mortar transport) was compared. The use of the ergonomic measures was assessed from worksite observations and questionnaires at baseline and after 6 months. The workers’ and employers’ behavioral change phases were determined by questionnaires and interviews, respectively. Performance indicators were assessed for the intervention from the researchers’ observations during the implementation process and through questionnaires completed by the workers.

Results The strategy had no statistically significant effect on the use of any of the four ergonomic measures, at either the cluster or the individual level. None of the companies in the intervention group passed through all six steps of the intervention. Process outcomes suggest that the ability to use ergonomic measures increased. In bricklaying, self-efficacy and skills to adapt the work height on the scaffolding improved significantly.

Conclusions The intervention did not lead to greater use of ergonomic measures in bricklaying or the transport of materials. Performance indicators of intervention and the corresponding behavioral change phases of stakeholders can help to detect essential elements of such intervention.

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