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Finding ergonomic solutions - participatory approaches
journal contributionposted on 14.05.2007, 13:57 authored by Sue HignettSue Hignett, John R. Wilson, Wendy Morris
This paper gives an overview of the theory of participatory ergonomics interventions and summary examples from a range of industries, including health care, military, manufacturing, production and processing, services, construction and transport. The definition of participatory approaches includes interventions at macro (organizational, systems) levels as well as micro (individual), where workers are given the opportunity and power to use their knowledge to address ergonomic problems relating to their own working activities. Examples are given where a cost-effective benefit has been measured using musculoskeletal sickness absence and compensation costs. Other examples, using different outcome measures, also showed improvements, for example, an increase in productivity, improved communication between staff and management, reduction in risk factors, the development of new processes and new designs for work environments and activities. Three cases are described from Canada and Japan where the participatory project was led by occupational health teams, suggesting that occupational health practitioners can have an important role to play in participatory ergonomics projects.