Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Ind Med. 1999 Apr;35(4):358-65.

Effects of a participatory ergonomics team among hospital orderlies.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110-1093, USA.



High rates of work-related injuries are seen among health care workers involved in lifting and transferring patients. We studied the effects of a participatory worker-management ergonomics team among hospital orderlies.


This prospective intervention trial examined work injuries and other outcomes before and after the intervention, with other hospital employees used as a concurrent control. All orderlies in a 1,200-bed urban hospital were studied using passively collected data (mean employment during study period 100-110 orderlies); 67 orderlies (preintervention) and 88 orderlies (postintervention) also completed a questionnaire. The intervention was the formation of a participatory ergonomics team with three orderlies, one supervisor, and technical advisors. This team designed and implemented changes in training and work practices.


The 2-year postintervention period was marked by decreased risks of work injury (RR = 0.50, 95% CI 0.35-0.72), lost time injury (RR = 0.26, 95% CI 0.14-0.48), and injury with three or more days of time loss (RR = 0.19, 95% CI 0.07-0.53). Total lost days declined from 136.2 to 23.0 annually per 100 full-time worker equivalents (FTE). Annual workers' compensation costs declined from $237/FTE to $139/FTE. The proportion of workers with musculoskeletal symptoms declined and there were statistically significant improvements in job satisfaction, perceived psychosocial stressors, and social support among the orderlies.


Substantial improvements in health and safety were seen following implementation of a participatory ergonomics program.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center