The effect of ergonomic interventions in healthcare facilities on musculoskeletal disorders

Am J Ind Med. 2005 Nov;48(5):338-47. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20225.


Background: The high incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among healthcare workers suggests that the introduction of ergonomic interventions could be beneficial. While laboratory studies have clearly documented the efficacy of ergonomic devices, few studies have examined their effectiveness in the healthcare workplace.

Methods: This study evaluated a statewide program that provided ergonomic consultation and financial support for purchasing ergonomic devices, which aid in patient handling and lifting. Changes in MSD rates between baseline (1 year pre-intervention) and post-intervention (up to 2 years) periods were examined in 100 work units in 86 healthcare facilities.

Results: The median MSD rate decreased from 12.32 to 6.64 per 200,000 employee-hours, a decrease greater than the secular trend for the study period (1999-2003).

Conclusions: This study suggests that ergonomic consultation and financial support for purchasing ergonomic equipment can be an effective intervention to reduce MSDs among healthcare workers.

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics*
  • Health Facilities*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Lifting / adverse effects*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Ohio
  • Patient Escort Service
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation of Patients*