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Ergonomics. 2000 May;43(5):622-38.

A field study of supplementary rest breaks for data-entry operators.

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  • 1National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Taft Laboratories, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA.


This study examined the effects of supplementary rest breaks on musculoskeletal discomfort, eyestrain, mood, and performance in data-entry workers. Two rest break schedules were compared in a within-subjects design. Workers alternated between a 'conventional' and a 'supplementary' schedule in 4-week intervals. The conventional schedule contained a 15-min break during the first half of the work shift and a 15-min break during the second half of the shift. The supplementary schedule contained the same two 15-min breaks, and a 5-min break during each hour which otherwise did not contain a break, for a total of 20 extra minutes of break time. Results are based on data from 42 workers. They indicated that discomfort in several areas of the body, and eyestrain, were significantly lower under the supplementary than under the conventional schedule. While symptoms increased from pre- to post-work periods under both schedules, the magnitude of the increases was significantly less under the supplementary schedule. In addition, increases in discomfort of the right forearm, wrist and hand over the course of the work week under the conventional schedule were eliminated under the supplementary schedule. These beneficial effects were obtained without reductions in data-entry performance.

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