The application of participatory ergonomics in a healthcare setting in Hong Kong

Work. 2014;48(4):511-9. doi: 10.3233/WOR-141918.


Background: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs) are recognized as a major source of significant pain and disability in the healthcare sector. However, they are preventable if appropriate surveillance and intervention programs are implemented.

Objective: The purpose of this paper is to describe the holistic ergonomic approach that was used to address the multifactorial problems encountered by healthcare workers in their daily work.

Methods: Using participatory ergonomics, healthcare workers in this study teamed up with management and staff with expertise in ergonomic analysis, design, and implementation of remedies. Selected participatory ergonomic intervention programs targeted at an organizational level are elaborated. Interventions included pre-work stretching, workplace surveillance at a psychiatric department, on-site ergonomic teaching for community nurses, and display screen equipment consultancy.

Discussions: Changes in workplace design, equipment re-arrangement, awareness of proper posture, and adoption of good work practices all play important roles in reducing musculoskeletal disorders among healthcare workers. Prompt occupational medicine and rehabilitation services were also provided to complement the work disability prevention process. The impact of the various intervention programs on staff health, costs and productivity of the organization are simultaneously discussed.

Keywords: Injury prevention; intervention; musculoskeletal problems; physiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Nursing
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Ergonomics / methods*
  • Health Care Sector*
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Microcomputers
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Psychiatric Department, Hospital
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Workplace / organization & administration