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Am J Ind Med. 2003 Sep;44(3):273-81.

Participatory ergonomics as a return-to-work intervention: a future challenge?

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TNO Work and Employment, PO Box 718, 2130 AS Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.



Participatory ergonomics (PE) are often applied for prevention of low back pain (LBP). In this pilot-study, a PE-program is applied to the disability management of workers sick listed due to LBP.


The process, implementation, satisfaction, and barriers for implementation concerning the PE-program were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively for 35 workers sick listed 2-6 weeks due to LBP and their ergonomists.


Two-hundred-and-seventy ergonomic solutions were proposed to the employer. They were targeted more at work design and organization of work (58.9%) than at workplace and equipment design (38.9%). They were planned mostly on a short-term basis (74.8%). Almost half (48.9%) of the solutions for work adjustment were completely or partially implemented within 3 months after the first day of absenteeism. Most workers were satisfied about the PE-program (median score 7.8 on a 10-point scale) and reported a stimulating effect on return-to-work (66.7%). Main obstacles to implementation were technical or organizational difficulties (50.0%) and physical disabilities of the worker (44.8%).


This study suggests that compliance, acceptance, and satisfaction related to the PE-program were good for all participants. Almost half of the proposed solutions were implemented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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