Objectives: This study evaluated the effect of an intensive ergonomic approach and education on workstation changes and musculoskeletal disorders among workers who used a video display unit (VDU).
Methods: A randomized controlled design was used. The subjects (N=124) were allocated into three groups (intensive ergonomics, ergonomic education, reference) using stratified random sampling. The evaluation involved questionnaires, a diary of discomfort, measurements of workload, and an ergonomic rating of the workstations. The assessments were made 2 weeks before the intervention and after 2 and 10 months of follow-up.
Results: The intensive and training groups showed less musculoskeletal discomfort than the reference group after 2 months of follow-up. Positive effects on discomfort were seen primarily for the shoulder, neck, and upper back areas. No significant differences were found for the strain levels or prevalence of pain. After the intervention the ergonomic level was distinctly higher in the intensive ergonomic group than in the education or reference group.
Conclusions: Both the intensive ergonomics approach and education in ergonomics help reduce discomfort in VDU work. In attempts to improve the physical ergonomics of VDU workstations, the best result will be achieved with cooperative planning in which both workers and practitioners are actively involved.