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Out of "site", out of mind? Managing office teleworking in the 21st century
Advances in information technology mean that more and more people are working away from the office. Teleworking has many advantages, including reduced costs for employers and greater flexibility for employees, but it also raises new safety and health concerns. This guide explains how to protect staff and improve efficiency by managing the risks sensibly. Contents: definition of teleworking; risk assessment; monitoring teleworkers' safety and health
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, The Grange, Highfield Drive, Wigston, Leicestershire, LE18 1NN, United Kingdom, February 2012 (revised). 18p. Illus.
Out_of_site_out_of_mind_[INTERNET_FREE_ACCESS] [en inglés]
Computer work - Relieving pain with only two minutes per day
Travail à l'ordinateur - Soulager la douleur en seulement deux minutes par jour [en francés]
This article summarizes the findings of a study on the effectiveness of small amounts of daily exercise (2-12 min) for relieving neck/shoulder pain in healthy adults during work on computers. It is concluded that training of just two minutes per day can already bring significant relief in musculoskeletal pain.
Travail et santé, Dec. 2011, Vol.27, No.4, p.16-17. Illus. 1 ref.
Travail_à_l'ordinateur_[BUY_THIS_ARTICLE].pdf [en francés]
Bennett J.B., Broome K.M., Schwab-Pilley A., Gilmore P.
A web-based approach to address cardiovascular risks in managers - Results of a randomized trial
The objective of this study was to examine whether a Web-based health and leadership development programme designed specifically for managers was associated with changes in self-reported and biometric indicators of cardiovascular disease within the context of a randomized control trial. A total of 145 managers from eight organizations participated in a six-month Internet-based programme or a control condition. They completed pre- and posttest assessments that included both self-reported attitudes (on diet, exercise, and mental health) and biometric measures (body weight, waist circumference). The intervention was associated with improvements in dietary attitudes, dietary self-efficacy, and exercise, and reductions in distress symptoms. Women in the program reduced their waist circumference significantly more than controls. The programme showed promise for reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors. Similar results across diverse organizations suggest the program may be useful across industry types.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Aug. 2011, Vol.53, No.8, p.911-918. Illus. 40 ref.
A_web-based_approach_[BUY_THIS_ARTICLE] [en inglés]
Pérez A., Nebot M., Maciá M., Panadés R.
An outbreak of 400 cases of lipoatrophia semicircularis in Barcelona: Effectiveness of control measures
From February 2007 to October 2008, 1137 cases of lipoatrophia semicircularis were registered in distinct workplaces in Barcelona, Spain. A protocol to establish control measures was designed. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of these measures. The outbreak course in relation to the implemented measures (relative humidity >50%, ground-mass electrical discharge, and avoidance of sharp-ended table edges) was analyzed. The study population consisted of 417 workers from four different workplaces. Cumulative incidences at the four workplaces were 61.6%, 24.1%, 8.8% and 5.5%. Based on discharges confirmed by medical services, the corresponding healing rates were 93%, 82%, 22% and 62%. When the three basic measures were promptly and jointly applied, 90% of the cases were resolved within 6 months.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, July 2010, Vol.52, No.7, p.751-757. Illus. 15 ref.
An_outbreak_of_400_cases_[BUY_THIS_ARTICLE] [en inglés]
IJmker S., Huysmans M.A., van der Beek A.J., Knol D.L., van Mechelen W., Bongers P.M., Blatter B.M.
Software-recorded and self-reported duration of computer use in relation to the onset of severe arm-wrist-hand pain and neck-shoulder pain
The objective of this study was to examine the association between duration of computer use at work, measured with software and self-reports, and the onset of severe arm-wrist-hand and neck-shoulder symptoms. A 2-year follow-up study was conducted between 2004 and 2006 among 1951 office workers in The Netherlands. Self-reported computer duration and other risk factors were collected at baseline and at 1-year follow-up. Computer use at work was recorded continuously with computer software for 1009 participants. Outcome questionnaires were obtained at baseline and every 3 months during follow-up. Cases were identified based on the transition within 3 months of no or minor symptoms to severe symptoms. Findings are discussed. No association was found between the software-recorded duration of computer use at work and the onset of severe arm-wrist-hand and neck-shoulder symptoms using an exposure window of 3 months. In contrast, a positive association was found between the self-reported duration of computer use at work and the onset of severe arm-wrist-hand and neck-shoulder symptoms.
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, July 2011, Vol.68, No.7, p.502-509. Illus. 26 ref.
Software-recorded_and_self-reported_duration_[INTERNET_FREE_ACCESS] [en inglés]
Maina G., Bovenzi M., Palmas A., Prodi A., Filon F.L.
Job strain, effort-reward imbalance and ambulatory blood pressure: Results of a cross-sectional study in call handler operators
The objective of this study was to examine the association between two job stress models, namely the job strain (JDC) and the effort-reward imbalance (ERI) model, and ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) among call handler operators. Participants included 74 women and 26 men who were monitored on two workdays for ambulatory blood pressure. Measures of both job stress models were related to blood pressure by the generalized estimating equations method while adjusting for potential confounders (gender, age, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, educational level, marital status, time of day, and work schedule). Findings are discussed. Overall, they do not support work stress as a significant factor influencing ABP among call handlers.
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Apr. 2011, Vol.84, No.4, p.383-391. Illus. 45 ref.
Job_strain_effort-reward_imbalance_[INTERNET_FREE_ACCESS] [en inglés]
Fournier P.S., Montreuil S., Brun J.P., Bilodeau C., Villa J.
Exploratory study to identify workload factors that have an impact on health and safety - A case study in the service sector
The new types of work organization could have negative impacts on employees (fatigue, chronic stress, musculoskeletal disorders) just as on employers (absenteeism, personnel turnover). The scientific literature designates workload as a common denominator in this case, except that evidence on the conceptualization of this phenomenon is limited and does not take into account its complexity. The objective of this study was to define and characterize workload according to a systematic approach. It was carried out by means of a questionnaire survey among the employees of an insurance company. Findings are presented and discussed.
Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail du Québec (IRSST), 505 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montreal (Quebec) H3A 3C2, Canada, 2011. ix, 55p. Illus. Approx. 80 ref.
Exploratory_study_to_identify_workload_factors_[INTERNET_FREE_ACCESS] [en inglés]
Choobineh A., Motamedzade M., Kazemi M., Moghimbeigi A., Pahlavian A.H.
The impact of ergonomics intervention on psychosocial factors and musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers
This study aimed to investigate psychosocial risk factors and musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers of an Iranian oil refinery and also to examine the subsequent effects of ergonomics intervention on musculoskeletal discomfort and psychosocial risk factors. A total of 73 office workers as a case group and 61 office workers as a control group were randomly selected and examined. The Nordic Musculoskeletal Disorders Questionnaire and the Persian version of the Job Content Questionnaire (P-JCQ) were used as collecting data tools before and after the interventional program. Low back problem (28.8%) was found to be the most common problem among the office workers. Significant differences found between prevalence rates of reported musculoskeletal in upper back, lower back and feet/ankle regions before and after intervention. Findings showed that psychosocial variables were not affected by the intervention which consisted in ergonomic traning sessions. The only variables on the P-JCQ that were significantly different pre/post intervention are the physical variables: physical job demands, physical exertion and physical isometric load. None of the other psychosocial variables were found to be significant. With management support, improvements in all office workstation components were made successfully.
International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 2011, Vol.41, p.671-676. 74 ref.
Helland M., Horgen G., Kvikstad T.M., Garthus T., Aarås A.
Will musculoskeletal and visual stress change when visual display unit (VDU) operators move from small offices to an ergonomically optimized office landscape?
This study investigated the effect of moving from small offices to a landscape environment for 19 visual display unit (VDU) operators. The operators reported significantly improved lighting and glare conditions. Furthermore, visual discomfort was also significantly reduced on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). There was no significant correlation between lighting conditions and visual discomfort, neither in the small offices nor in the office landscape. However, visual discomfort correlated significantly with glare in small offices. This correlation disappeared after the lighting system in the office landscape was improved. Other findings are discussed. By careful design and construction of an office landscape with regard to lighting and visual conditions, transfer from small offices may be acceptable from a visual-ergonomic point of view.
Applied Ergonomics, Nov. 2011, Vol.42, No.6, p.839-845. Illus. 45 ref.
Stanislavoviene J., Pajarskiene B., Jankauskas R., Veniute M.
The psychosocial factors at work related to depression among female white-collar workers in Vilnius (Lithuania)
The aim of this study was to establish which psychosocial factors at work are related to depression among female white-collar workers in Vilnius, Lithuania. The data was collected in a case-control study in 2002-2004. The cases were selected from patients treated at Vilnius mental health centers. The controls were randomly selected from employed Vilnius residents. A descriptive statistic and logistic regression was applied. Three psychosocial factors and possible confounders within the evaluated model were statistically reliable: adjusted odds ratios for uneven work, job control and family esteem were 2.17, 10.81 and 2.13 respectively.
International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 2011, Vol.24, No.2, p.166-176. 36 ref.
Lilley R., LaMontagne A.D., Firth H.
Combined exposures to workplace psychosocial stressors: Relationships with mental health in a sample of NZ cleaners and clerical workers
A combined measure of two common psychosocial stressors, called job pressure has previously been shown to be strongly associated with poor mental health in high status workers. This study tests the generalizability of this association to lower status workers. A national random cross-sectional sample of 596 cleaners and clerical workers was obtained from the New Zealand electoral roll by occupational title. Cross-sectional data on job stressors, demographics, and mental health were collected by computer-assisted telephone interviews. Combined exposure to low job control, high job demands and job insecurity (high job pressure) was associated with markedly elevated odds (13-fold or higher) of poor mental health after adjustment for age, sex, occupation, and education.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2011, Vol.54, p.405-409. 25 ref.
Gołofit-Szymczak M., Górny R.L.
Bacterial and fungal aerosols in air-conditioned office buildings in Warsaw, Poland - The winter season
The microbial quality of the working environment was assessed in winter in air-conditioned office buildings in Warsaw. The average indoor concentrations of bacterial and fungal aerosols were low (<10³ cfu/m³), below Polish proposals for threshold limit values in public service buildings. Even during cold months, if the air-conditioning system works properly, people remain the main source of bacterial aerosol in offices, whereas infiltration of outdoor air remains a major mechanism responsible for their fungal contamination. An analysis of the bioaerosol size distribution showed that microbial propagules that reach both the upper and lower respiratory tract may evoke numerous adverse health effects from irritation and asthmatic reactions to allergic inflammation. A comparative analysis of viable and total airborne microbial counts showed that viable micro-organisms accounted for up to 0.3% of the total number of microbial propagules. Hence, a comprehensive hygienic assessment of office workplaces should include an efficient control of both these elements.
International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 2010, Vol.16, No.4, p.465-476. Illus. 38 ref.
Zakerian S.A., Subramaniam I.D.
The relationship between psychosocial work factors, work stress and computer-related musculoskeletal discomforts among computer users in Malaysia
Increasing numbers of workers use computers at work. This study examined the associations between psychosocial work factors, work stress and musculoskeletal discomforts via a questionnaire survey on 30 office workers at a university in Malaysia, whose jobs required an extensive use of computers. The questionnaire was distributed and collected daily for 20 days. While the results indicated a significant relationship among psychosocial work factors, work stress and musculoskeletal discomfort, three psychosocial work factors were found to be more important than others in both work stress and musculoskeletal discomfort: job demands, negative social interaction and computer-related problems. Implications of these findings are discussed.
International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 2009, Vol.15, No.4, p.425-434. 57 ref.
The_relationship.pdf [en inglés]
Luttmann A., Schmidt K.H., Jäger M.
Working conditions, muscular activity and complaints of office workers
Job content, work tools, equipment layout and musculoskeletal complaints were studied for 69 employees of a German tax office by means of questionnaires. In addition, a work-physiological field investigation regarding muscular strain and fatigue was performed during total working days under normal working conditions for a subgroup of 13 subjects. Surface electromyograms (EMG) of four shoulder and arm muscles were recorded during the total working shift; simultaneously the workflow was documented applying an encoding procedure. At four points in time, acute musculoskeletal complaints were documented using a specific questionnaire. Findings are discussed. It is concluded that self-organization of the work by the subjects, namely by changing the work posture, work sequence or work pace to decrease in muscular activation in the course of the working day is helpful to prevent muscular complaints.
International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 2010, Vol.40, p.549-559. Illus. 42 ref.
Kojima R., Fujisawa D., Tajima M., Shibaoka M., Kakinuma M., Shima S., Tanaka K., Ono Y.
Efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy training using brief e-mail sessions in the workplace: A controlled clinical trial
This case-control study was conducted to evaluate the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) training in improving depression and self-esteem in workers. A total of 261 white-collar workers were assigned to either an intervention group (137) or to a control group (124). The intervention group was offered participation in a group session with CBT specialists and three e-mail sessions with occupational health care staff. Between-group differences in the change in Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and Self-Esteem Scale from baseline to three months after the end of training were assessed by analysis of covariance. All subjects in the intervention group completed the group session and 114 (83%) completed the three e-mail sessions. CES-D score decreased by 2.21 points in the intervention group but increased by 0.12 points in the control group. However, between-group difference in change of self-esteem scores was not significant. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Industrial Health, July 2010, Vol.48, No.4, p.495-502. Illus. 24 ref.
Efficacy_of_cognitive_behavioral_therapy.pdf [en inglés]
Sato T., Kubo T., Ebara T., Takeyama H., Inoue T., Iwanishi M., Tachi N., Itani T., Kamijima M.
Brief hourly exercise during night work can help maintain workers' performance
This study examined the effects of brief hourly exercise as a countermeasure against the adverse effects of night work, especially for workers requiring sustained attention while working in a prolonged sitting posture. During simulated night work (22:00-08:00), participants were required to follow an hourly schedule comprising a 30-min task, a 15-min test and a 15-min break. The study included two experimental conditions: hourly exercise for 3 min during breaks, and a control condition, without exercise during the breaks. Throughout the test period, work performance in the last 10 min of each 30-min task was better under the exercise condition than under the control condition. Implications of these and other findings are discussed.
Industrial Health, July 2010, Vol.48, No.4, p.470-477. Illus. 41 ref.
Brief_hourly_exercise.pdf [en inglés]
Janwantanakul P., Pensri P., Jiamjarasrangsi W., Sinsongsook T.
The relationship between upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms attributed to work and risk factors in office workers
The aim of this study was to examine the effects of individual, work-related physical and psychosocial factors on the prevalence of shoulder, elbow and wrist/hand symptoms attributed to work in office workers. A self-administered questionnaire was delivered to 2,000 office workers in 54 workplaces in Bangkok, Thailand. A total of 1,428 workers (71%) returned the questionnaire. Alcohol consumption, frequency of working in an uncomfortable posture and relationships with colleagues were each significantly related to the prevalence of experiencing shoulder symptoms. Frequency of working in the position that hands were above the shoulder level and self-rated perception of air circulation in the office were significantly associated with the prevalence of experiencing wrist/hand symptoms. However no significant associations were found between the investigated factors and the prevalence of experiencing elbow symptoms.
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Mar. 2010, Vol.83, No.3, p.273-281. 42 ref.
Harrington C.B., Feuerstein M.
Workstyle in office workers: Ergonomic and psychological reactivity to work demands
The objective of this study was to investigate whether variation in work demands were related to keyboard force, postural change, cognitive reactivity, physiological arousal and work output in asymptomatic office workers who varied in workstyle. Eighty asymptomatic office workers prescreened for level of workstyle (high = 39, low = 41) were enrolled in the study. Participants were exposed to a high- and low-demand work task, and biomechanical, physiological, and psychological reactivity were measured. Results indicate that the high workstyle group demonstrated elevated keyboard force, greater awkward posture, more negative mood changes, and more negative work-related cognitions. Asymptomatic office workers with higher levels of self-reported adverse workstyle responded to a manipulation of work demands with greater psychological and biomechanical strain.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Apr. 2010, Vol.52, No.4, p.375-382. Illus. 29 ref.
Chambel M.J., Castanheira F.
Working in a call centre: From myths to reality
Trabalhar num call center: Dos mitos à realidade [en portugués]
This book presents an analysis of the working conditions and human resource management in call centers in Portugal and discusses how they can be developed to improve the quality of life of workers in this sector, and hence the performance and efficiency of enterprises in which they are employed.
Editora RH, Lda., R. do Mercado 7,1800-271 Lisbon, Portugal, 2010. 118p. Illus. 164 ref. Price: EUR 13.12.
Niskanen T., Lehtelä J., Ketola R., Nykyri E.
Results of Finnish national survey on EU legislation concerning computer work
The European Directive on computer work (VDU 90/270/EEC, see CIS 90-1069) is implemented in the Finnish Government Decree. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of the legislation and its applications in practice. Data were collected by means of online questionnaires from 934 employers, 1872 employees and 289 occupational health care (OHC) units. Findings are discussed. The practical conclusion is that employees' visual acuity examinations and compensation for eyeglasses should be better promoted and adopted for employees engaged in computer work. Moreover, ergonomic improvements are best carried out in co-operation with OHC personnel.
Applied Ergonomics, July 2010, Vol.41, No.4, p.542-548. 29 ref.
Bidassie B., McGlothlin J.D., Goh A., Feyen R.G., Barany J.W.
Limited economic evaluation to assess the effectiveness of a university-wide office ergonomics program
The objective of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of an office ergonomics programme at a major university in the United States. The relationship between office-related recordable injuries, reported lost time, severity of these injuries, and the workers' compensation paid was analyzed and the corresponding incident cost was calculated from 1995 to 2007. Since the beginning of the office ergonomics programme, the number of office cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) cases decreased by 53%. Since the official start (in 1999) of a 50-50 cost share agreement for office equipment purchases between the university's Safety and Health Department (SHD) and the university departments evaluated, it was observed that the incident rate decreased by 63%, lost time decreased by 71% and office-related carpal tunnel syndrome decreased by almost 50%. Other findings are discussed.
Applied Ergonomics, May 2010, Vol.41, No.4, p.417-427. Illus. 29 ref.
Salonen H.J., Lappalainen S.K., Riuttala H.M., Tossavainen A.P., Pasanen P.O., Reijula K.E.
Man-made vitreous fibers in office buildings in the Helsinki area
In this study of 258 office buildings, the occurrence and density of settled man-made vitreous fibres (MMVFs) on surfaces were measured by two sampling methods. Altogether, 1113 samples of settled dust were collected from surfaces with plastic bags and gelatine tape and were analyzed with a scanning electron microscope and a stereomicroscope, respectively. Tape samples from 68 buildings were collected from 162 frequently-cleaned and 57 seldom-cleaned room surfaces in 56 and 29 offices, respectively, and from 24 supply air ducts in 10 offices. MMVFs longer than 20 μm were counted with a stereomicroscope. Irritation symptoms were recorded with a questionnaire. More than 60% of the surface dust and almost 90% of the samples collected from supply air ducts contained MMVFs. The density of MMVFs longer than 20 μm ranged from < 0.1 to 5 fibre/cm2. The mean density of the MMVFs was about two times higher on the seldom cleaned surfaces than on the frequently cleaned surfaces. The density was usually under 0.2 MMVF/cm2 in surface dust of offices without emission sources of MMVFs. The measurements combined with qualitative analysis of settled dust can help to localize relevant sources of fibre emissions. Altogether, in 40% of the buildings, several occupants had repeated irritation symptoms that were verified by occupational health care personnel.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Oct. 2009, Vol.6, No.10, p.624-631. Illus. 41 ref.
Man-made.pdf [en inglés]
Page E., Burr G., Brueck S.
Evaluation of cancer among occupants of two office buildings
In 2007, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a health hazard evaluation (HHE) request from the management of NASA's John Glenn Research Center (NASA GRC in Cleveland, Ohio, regarding on-going employee and union concerns about a possible higher rate of cancer among current and former employees of two buildings, possibly due to potential exposure to jet fuel and de-icing compounds from the nearby airport, asbestos in the buildings, water damage in the buildings, and general indoor environmental quality. A number of investigations were carried out. Findings are discussed. It is concluded that there is no evidence that the cancers reported are associated with work in the buildings because the number and types of cancers do not appear unusual; the different types of cancers do not suggest a common exposure; no significant hazardous exposures were identified and evidence leads to non-occupational causes.
Publications Dissemination, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-2001, USA, Mar. 2009. vi, 19p. 36 ref.
HETA_2008-0166-3079.pdf [en inglés]
Maciá Suades M., Juanola Pagès E.
Lipoatrofia semicircular: la experiencia de Barcelona
This article describes the characteristics of semicircular lipoatrophy and presents the experience drawn from all reported cases in Barcelona in 2007 and early 2008 and the preventive measures taken. Semicircular lipoatrophy is a reversible atrophic lesion of the adipose tissue, which in most cases affects the antero-lateral zone of the thigh and is mainly occupation-related. In enterprises where preventive measures have been taken, improvements or complete recoveries were observed. The Catalan administration has published an action protocol in order to unify procedures in enterprises and in occupational safety and health services.
Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo, May 2009, No.52, p.14-21. Illus. 26 ref.
Lipoatrofia_semicircular.pdf [en español]
Schön F.A., Preim D.
Field study on dynamic sitting under different work station conditions
Feldstudie zum dynamischen Sitzen unter verschiedenen Arbeitsplatzbedingungen [en alemán]
In this study, the sitting behaviour of 74 healthy volunteers of both genders was tested on a standard office chair under various realistic working conditions using a specially-developed recording device. The aim of the study was to examine the movements of the seat and backrest surfaces during a working day, to identify the percentage of front, middle and posterior sitting positions, as well as the differences when executing specific tasks and to verify the assumption that one would slide from the chair with a seat inclination of -10°. The experimental device was located in offices, a call centre, a control centre with monitoring and in the area of a seminar event for students. No conclusive evidence or answer to the questions was given by the tests. The front position of the seat is still preferred for all the workstation conditions observed.
Zentralblatt für Arbeitsmedizin, Arbeitsschutz und Ergonomie, Feb. 2009, Vol.59, No.2, p.44-55. Illus. 12 ref.
Hello and goodbye
This article discusses the conditions of work in call centres in the Philippines. Despite the relatively good salaries, the sector suffers from high rates of attrition. Having to work night shifts to communicate with customers in the Western hemisphere, high job demands and very low levels of control lead to stress and job dissatisfaction.
Newsbreak, May-July 2009, p.25-30. Illus.
Roelen C.A.M., Koopmans P.C., Bültmann U., Groothoff J.W., van der Klink J.J.L.
Psychosocial work conditions and registered sickness absence: A 3-year prospective cohort study among office employees
The objective of this study was to investigate associations between various psychosocial work conditions and sickness absence. It involved 395 employees working in an insurance office. Data on psychosocial work conditions were obtained by means of self-administered questionnaires in 2002 and linked to registered sickness absence from 2002 to 2004, adjusting for earlier sick leave and psychological distress. Overall findings were not conclusive.
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Oct. 2009, Vol.82, No.9, p.1107-1113. 23 ref.
Kristiansen J., Mathiesen L., Nielsen P.K., Hansen Å.M., Shibuya H., Petersen H.M., Lund S.P., Skotte J., Jørgensen M.B., Søgaard K.
Stress reactions to cognitively demanding tasks and open-plan office noise
To investigate the effects of cognitively-demanding work tasks and office noise on heart rate variability (HRV), cardiovascular responses and electromyography (EMG) activity in the trapezius muscles, 10 female volunteers were exposed to simulated open-plan office noise for 35 min while engaged in cognitively demanding tasks. Cognitively demanding work tasks were associated with changes in HRV, systolic blood pressure and EMG that reflects increased sympathetic activity in the autonomic nervous system. No effect of noise was observed, except for a higher rating of perceived exertion in cervical region and, contrary to expectations, a 4% lower diastolic blood pressure in the noise conditions.
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Apr. 2009, Vol.82, No.5, p.631-641. Illus. 42 ref.
Salonen H.J, Pasanen A.L., Lappalainen S.K., Riuttala H.M., Tuomi T.M., Pasanen P.O., Bäck B.C., Reijula K.E.
Airborne concentrations of volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde and ammonia in Finnish office buildings with suspected indoor air problems
A database of indoor air concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and ammonia in office environments was analysed to suggest interpretation guidelines for measurements in office buildings with suspected indoor air problems. Indoor air samples were collected for VOCs from 176 office buildings, 23 offices for formaldehyde, and 14 office buildings for ammonia in 2001-2006. Although the buildings had reported indoor air complaints, a walk-through inspection by indoor air specialists showed no exceptional sources of indoor air pollutants. The measurements of chemical pollutants did not indicate any clear reason for the complaints. Guidance values for various indoor air pollutants are proposed.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Mar. 2009, Vol.6, No.3, p.200-209. Illus. 67 ref.
Salonen H., Pasanen A.L., Lappalainen S., Riuttala H., Tuomi T., Pasanen P., Bäck B., Reijula K.
Volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde as explaining factors for sensory irritation in office environments
This study evaluated volatile organic compound (VOC) measurements from 176 office buildings, including 23 buildings for which formaldehyde measurements had also been conducted. The 50 most abundant VOCs and their concentrations in 520 air samples were analyzed. At the concentrations observed in the buildings, formaldehyde was estimated to be a more likely cause of sensory irritation than the mixture of common VOCs. Subjective symptoms of workers in 20 buildings were obtained by means of a questionnaire on indoor air quality. The most frequent symptoms involved the upper respiratory tract. However, no relationship could be shown between the reported symptoms and the concentrations of VOCs and formaldehyde in these buildings.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Apr. 2009, Vol.6, No.4, p.239-247. 49 ref.
Mork P.J., Westgaard R.H.
Back posture and low back muscle activity in female computer workers: A field study
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between back posture, low back muscle activity and low back pain among women computer workers. Twenty-one female computer workers participated. Surface electromyographic activity was recorded from several lumbar region muscles throughout the workday. Inclinometer recordings from the pelvis, upper trunk, and left thigh were used to determine back posture. Low back pain intensity was reported using a visual analogue scale every hour throughout the work and leisure periods. Subjects reporting low back pain during the workday were not distinguished by duration of sitting, sitting posture or low back muscle activity. Other findings are discussed.
Clinical Biomechanics, Feb. 2009, Vol.24, No.2, p.169-175. Illus. 35 ref.
Robertson M., Amick B.C., DeRango K., Rooney T., Bazzani L., Harrist R., Moore A.
The effects of an office ergonomics training and chair intervention on worker knowledge, behavior and musculoskeletal risk
A field intervention study was undertaken to examine the effects of office ergonomics training coupled with the supply of an adjustable chair on office workers' knowledge of musculoskeletal risks. A total of 216 office workers were assigned to one of three groups: a group receiving the training and adjustable chair, a training-only group, and a control group. Pre and post-training knowledge tests were administered to all those who attended the training. Body postures and workstation set-ups were observed before and after the intervention. Perceived control over the physical work environment was higher for both intervention groups as compared to workers in the control group. Significant improvements in ergonomic knowledge and behaviour were observed for the intervention groups, who also had lower musculoskeletal risks than the control group. However, the effect of the chair was non conclusive.
Applied Ergonomics, Jan. 2009, Vol.40, No.1, p.124-135. Illus. 38 ref.
Safe operation of office equipment
This leaflet on the safe operation of office equipment addresses some of the precautions to be taken when using typewriters, photocopiers, shredders and paper cutting machines. It also includes a section on working safely in offices.
Occupational Safety and Health Council, 19/F China United Centre, 28 Marble Road, North Point, Hong Kong, 2008. 2p. Illus.
Safe_operation_of_office_equipment_[INTERNET_FREE_ACCESS] [en inglés]
This leaflet on office lighting emphasizes the importance of non-reflective surfaces, desktop positioning from windows, light diffusion, elimination of glare and use of appropriate contrast on computer displays. It also includes a section on office and display screen ergonomics.
Occupational Safety and Health Council, 19/F China United Centre, 28 Marble Road, North Point, Hong Kong, 2008. 2p. Illus.
Office_lighting_[INTERNET_FREE_ACCESS] [en inglés]
Delisle A., Larivière C., Plamondon A., Jetté C., Marchand D., Stock S.
Musculoskeletal disorders and office automation - Follow-up on the impact of changes in office furniture on posture and upper limb muscle use
Troubles musculo-squelettiques et bureautique - Suivi de l'impact des modifications du mobilier de bureau sur la posture et la sollicitation musculaire du membre supérieur [en francés]
The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of two types of office layouts on workers' upper limb muscle solicitation and posture, and to document the effects of the layouts on comfort and perceived pain. One workstation was organized according to the ergonomic criteria of the Canadian Standards Association. Another, with a single surface, promoted direct forearm support on the work surface. The activity of the trapezius, anterior deltoid and finger extensor muscles, as well as head, trunk, and dominant arm and wrist postures were measured to determine the impacts of the two layouts. Tasks, psychosocial aspects, comfort and perceived pain, as well as the functional limitation associated with this pain, were documented. Measurements of the different workstation components were used to determine the extent of the modifications carried out for each of these two layouts. Findings are discussed.
Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail du Québec (IRSST), 505 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montreal (Quebec) H3A 3C2, Canada, 2008. ix, 85p. Illus. 97 ref. Price: CAD 10.50. Downloadable version (PDF format) free of charge.
Rapport_R-563.pdf [en francés]
Gervais R.L., Williamson J., Sanders V., Hopkinson J.
Health and Safety Executive
Evaluation of the success in Great Britain of the Directive on minimum safety and health requirements for work with display screen equipment - A comparative assessment of the 1997 and 2007 evaluations
This current report involved a comparative evaluation of the impact, including the costs and benefits, of the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Directive 90/270/EEC (see CIS 90-1069) in the United Kingdom, with the previous evaluation of the Regulations that was completed in 1997. The research is based on a structured sample of employers in the United Kingdom, in which data were collected from 1241 respondents. Overall, the results showed positive findings across a majority of the analyses. Contents: introduction; methodology; use of display screen equipment; perceived risks; alterations to workstations; daily routine of users; eye and eyesight tests; benefits and costs; the regulations; conclusions. The employers' questionnaires of 1997 and 2007 are included in appendices.
HSE Books, P.O. Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WA, United Kingdom, 2008. viii, 79p. Illus. 6 ref.
HSE_Research_Report_622.pdf [en inglés]
Norbäck D., Nordström K.
Sick building syndrome in relation to air exchange rate, CO2, room temperature and relative air humidity in university computer classrooms: An experimental study
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of ventilation and temperature changes in university computer rooms on symptoms among students. Two classrooms had higher air exchange; two others had lower air exchange. After one week, ventilation conditions were interchanged between the rooms. The students reported symptoms during the last hour, on a seven-step rating scale. Measurements included room temperature, relative humidity carbon dioxide (CO2), PM10 and ultra-fine particles, illumination, air velocity, formaldehyde, nitrogen and ozone. Data were subjected to multiple regression analyses. It was found that computer classrooms may have CO2 above 1,000 ppm and temperatures above 22°C, and that these conditions may affect mucosal membrane symptoms, headaches and tiredness. Other findings are discussed.
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Oct. 2008, Vol.82, No.1, p.21-30. 32 ref.
Methling D., Schönfeld D.
Recommendation for glasses for VDU work, viewed critically
Empfehlungen für Bildschirmarbeitsplatzbrillen, kritisch betrachtet [en alemán]
Occupational physicians often conclude that spectacles prescribed for working at screens are not satisfactory because the optometric analyses fail to take screen work into account. A protocol was developed for collecting the necessary optometric data and was tested on 44 patients wearing spectacles. Findings show that it was possible to prescribe optimal spectacles on the basis of correct optometric measurements. Other aspects are also discussed.
Zentralblatt für Arbeitsmedizin, Arbeitsschutz und Ergonomie, Feb. 2008, Vol.58, No.2, p.48-55. 13 ref.
Gilworth G., Smyth G., Smith J., Tennant A.
The development and validation of the office work screen
A 62-item questionnaire aimed at capturing relevant psychosocial issues and musculoskeletal symptoms and measuring work instability among office workers was developed and returned by 153 employees from two different settings. The data were fitted to the Rasch model of work instability. Reliability was 0.9, indicating suitability for use at the individual level. The questionnaire incorporates both musculoskeletal and psychosocial factors in one dimension. This new questionnaire will facilitate workforce screening, individual monitoring and proactive targeting of interventions (for example, vocational rehabilitation) to prevent or minimize sickness absence in office workers.
Occupational Medicine, 2008, Vol.58, No.4, p.289-294. Illus. 29 ref.
Kerak E., Barrijal S., Masouadi K.
Working with visual display units: Impact on the health of data entry operators at a Moroccan health insurance company
Le travail sur écran - Impact sur la santé des opérateurs de saisie dans un organisme d'assurance maladie au Maroc [en francés]
The objective of this study was to assess the health impact of working on visual display units (VDU) for the data entry of medical files at a social security and health insurance organisation in Morocco, together with the possible effects of this health impact on service quality. VDU workstations were analyzed in relation to current standards (ISO 9241, EU directives, etc.) by physically measuring workstation parameters. Risks and problems caused by VDU work for the operators were assessed by means of an epidemiological survey. This work enabled the detecting of workstation layout problems both in terms of ergonomics and work organisation factors. These problems affect employee health and safety (eye, vision and musculoskeletal disorders). Implications of these findings are discussed.
Cahiers de notes documentaires - Hygiène et sécurité du travail, Dec. 2008, No.213, p.45-54. Illus. 8 ref.
http://www.hst.fr/inrs-pub/inrs01.nsf/IntranetObject-accesParReference/ND%202300/$File/ND2300.pdf [en francés]
Osinubi O.Y.O., Gandhi S.K., Ohman-Strickland P., Boglarsky C., Fiedler N., Kipen H., Robson M.
Organizational factors and office workers' health after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks: Long-term physical symptoms, psychological distress, and work productivity
To assess if organizational factors were predictors of workers' health and productivity after the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks, a questionnaire survey was conducted among 750 workers, comparing those that had direct exposures to the WTC attacks (south of Canal Street workers) with those less directly exposed (north of Canal Street workers). South of Canal Street workers reported headache and cough more frequently than north of Canal Street workers. Organizational culture was an independent predictor of cough and job stress, and job stress was an independent predictor of on-the-job productivity losses.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Feb. 2008, Vol.50, No.2, p.112-125. 45 ref.
Haruyama Y., Muto T., Ichimura K., Yan Y., Fukuda H.
Changes of subjective stress and stress-related symptoms after a merger announcement: A longitudinal study in a merger-planning company in Japan
To investigate the influences of a merger on employees in a major Japanese financial company, changes of subjective stress and stress-related symptoms after a merger announcement were explored among 71 employees using longitudinal study surveys. Questionnaire items concerned stress and symptoms, personal characteristics, lifestyle, medical examinations and work-related factors. After the merger announcement, the prevalence of subjective stress, anxiety and impatience increased significantly from 46.5% to 78.9%, 18.3% to 40.8% and 15.9% to 29.0%, respectively. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Industrial Health, Mar. 2008, Vol.46, No.2, p.183-187. 18 ref.
Conlon C.F., Krause N., Rempel D.M.
A randomised controlled trial evaluating an alternative mouse and forearm support on upper body discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders among engineers
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of an alternative mouse and/or a forearm support board on the change in upper body discomfort scores and the development of incident musculoskeletal disorders. A total of 206 engineers form an engineering firm were followed for one year. Participants were randomised to receive: a conventional mouse only; an alternative mouse only; a forearm support board; an alternative mouse plus forearm support board. Outcome measures included weekly upper body discomfort scores and incident musculoskeletal disorders. During the study, 42 participants were diagnosed with an incident musculoskeletal disorder. The group that received the forearm support board experienced a reduction in their right upper extremity discomfort in comparison to those who did not receive a forearm board. The group that received the alternative mouse had a protective, but non-significant, effect on incident cases of right upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders and a non-significant reduction in neck/shoulder discomfort in comparison to those who received a conventional mouse.
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, May 2008, Vol.65, No.5, p.311-318. Illus. 31 ref.
Schell E., Theorell T., Hasson D., Arnetz B., Saraste H.
Impact of a web-based stress management and health promotion program on neck-shoulder-back pain in knowledge workers? 12 month prospective controlled follow-up
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a web-based stress management programme on perceived neck-shoulder-back pain. It involved 226 employees of a Swedish television channel who were divided into two study groups and one control group. The programme tool was offered to both study groups, while one group was also offered a more conventional programme of stress management exercises. Data were collected from all three groups at baseline, after six months and after twelve months. The group with more intensive programme showed decreased low back pain. There were no significant differences between the groups in neck-shoulder pain. Other findings are discussed. Overall, the effectiveness of the programme was not proven conclusively.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, June 2008, Vol.50, No.6, p.667-676. Illus. 28 ref.
Gan Q., Hammond S.K., Jiang Y., Yang Y., Hu T.W.
Effectiveness of a smoke-free policy in lowering secondhand smoke concentrations in offices in China
To examine the second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure level in Chinese office buildings and to evaluate the effectiveness of a smoke-free policy in reducing SHS exposure, a survey was carried out in 14 office buildings from 10 provinces in China. Smoking in the building significantly elevated the SHS concentrations both in offices with at least one smoker and in offices with no smokers. In one building that recently adopted a smoke-free policy, the nicotine concentrations decreased significantly. It is concluded that the enactment of no-smoking policies would be effective in reducing SHS exposure in office buildings.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, May 2008, Vol.50, No.5, p.570-575. Illus. 14 ref.
Marmaras N., Nathanael D., Zarboutis N.
The transition from CRT to LCD monitors: Effects on monitor placement and possible consequences in viewing distance and body postures
This study investigates the effects of the transition from cathode ray tube (CRT) to liquid crystal displays (LCDs) with respect to viewing distance and workers' postures. The comparison between 148 workplaces equipped with CRT and 115 equipped with LCD monitors revealed that the latter are positioned closer to the rear side of desks, increasing the mean distance of the screen from the front edge of the desk by nearly 10cm. The above finding suggests that the mean effective viewing distance may have also increased by the same amount. The study also suggests that in LCD monitors, the increased viewing distance often exceeds the recommended angular height for comfortable reading while in a comfortable sitting posture. With the aid of a cybernetic model and the above empirical findings, an attempt is made to explain how the increase of the available effective space in front of the worker offered by LCD monitors may result in the adoption of adverse postures.
International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, July-Aug. 2008, Vol.38, No.7-8, p.584-592. Illus. 37 ref.
Yoshioka E., Saijo Y., Fukui T., Kawaharada M., Kishi R.
Association between duration of daily visual display terminal work and insomnia among local government clerks in Japan
The aim of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate the relationship between the duration of daily visual display terminal work and sleep disturbances. A total of 2417 Japanese local government office workers (2030 men and 387 women) were investigated. Sleep disturbances were evaluated using the Athens Insomnia Scale. Visual display terminal work of 6h or more per day was significantly associated with insomnia (odds ratio 1.62) and in particular, caused problems with total sleep duration and sleepiness during the day, even after adjusting for possible confounding factors.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Feb. 2008, Vol.51, n°2, p.148-156. 25 ref.
Bernaards C.M., Proper K.I., Hildebrandt V.H.
Physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and body mass index in relationship to work productivity and sickness absence in computer workers with preexisting neck and upper limb symptoms
The purpose of this study was to investigate associations among three risk factors (physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index), work productivity and sickness absence in computer workers. All participants had experienced neck and upper limb symptoms in the preceding six months, the preceding two weeks, or both. Productivity and sickness absence were assessed by means of questionnaires. It was found that physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness were not associated with work productivity or sickness absence. Obese male workers showed significantly lower productivity than other workers. Other findings are discussed.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, June 2007, Vol.49, No.6, p.633-640. 42 ref.
Melrose A.S., Graveling R.A., Cowie H., Ritchie P., Hutchison P., Mulholland R.M.
Health and Safety Executive
Better display screen equipment (DSE) work-related ill health data
A variety of ill-health symptoms have been associated with working at screens, including musculoskeletal disorders, mental stress and visual fatigue. The objective of this project was to collect information on the extent of such ill health through a survey of employees working at screens. It compared the data with those of scientific literature. The survey found high prevalences of self-reported symptoms including headaches (52%), eye discomfort (58%), neck (47%), back (37%) and shoulder (39%) pain. Most of the workers reporting symptoms did not take any time off work. These findings are broadly consistent with other studies in the literature.
HSE Books, P.O. Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WA, United Kingdom, 2007. viii, 145p. Illus. 82 ref.
http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr561.pdf [en inglés]
Chojnacka A., Sudoł-Szopińska I.
Standardization aspects of thermal comfort in office areas
Komfort termiczny w pomieszczeniach biurowych w aspekcie norm [en polonés]
It is known that providing thermal comfort to employees by means of adjustment and control of the relevant environmental parameters results in a decrease in the number of errors and accidents, and an increase in productivity and quality of products and services. According to a report published by the European Agency for the Safety and Health at Work, thermal discomfort is an important physical risk factor in the work environment. The possibilities of analysing the thermal comfort in the work environment according to various Polish and European standards are discussed, together with the design of buildings while taking into account thermal comfort criteria.
Bezpieczeństwo pracy, June 2007, No.6 (429), p.16-19. 11 ref.
Nuisance caused by noise at workplaces
Belästigender Lärm am Arbeitsplatz [en alemán]
Nuisances sonores aux postes de travail [en francés]
This booklet addresses the issue of the nuisance caused by noise in offices, which constitutes more of a discomfort than a risk of hearing damage. Contents: legal aspects (Swiss legislation, European directives including Directive 2003/10/EC (see CIS 06-253), standards); noise perception (how the human auditory system works); discomfort caused by noise; noise nuisance at the place of work; effects of noise (sleep disorders, effects on the vegetative system, social effects, verbal communication problems, poor productivity); coping with noise. An appendix lists acoustic dimensions and measuring units.
Suva, Gesundheitsschutz, Postfach, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland, 5th ed., 2006 (German ed.), 2007 (French ed.). 35p. Illus. 32 ref.
https://wwwsapp1.suva.ch/sap/public/bc/its/mimes/zwaswo/99/pdf/66058_d.pdf [en alemán]
https://wwwsapp1.suva.ch/sap/public/bc/its/mimes/zwaswo/99/pdf/66058_f.pdf [en francés]
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