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Hum Factors. 2012 Dec;54(6):890-900.

Practical ways to facilitate ergonomics improvements in occupational health practice.

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Institute for Science of Labour, Kawasaki, Japan.



Recent advances in participatory programs for improving workplace conditions are discussed to examine practical ways to facilitate ergonomics improvements.


Participatory training programs are gaining importance, particularly in promoting occupational health and safety in small-scale workplaces. These programs have led to many improvements that can reduce work-related risks in varied situations.


Recent experiences in participatory action-oriented training programs in small workplaces and agriculture are reviewed.The emphasis of the review is on training steps, types of improvements achieved, and the use of action tools by trainers and training participants.


Immediate improvements in multiple technical areas are targeted, including materials handling,workstation design, physical environment, welfare facilities, and work organization. In facilitating ergonomics improvements in each local situation, it is important to focus on (a) building on local good practices; (b) applying practical, simple improvements that apply the basic principles of ergonomics; and (c) developing action-oriented toolkits for direct use by workers and managers. This facilitation process is effective when locally designed action toolkits are used by trainers, including local good examples, action checklists, and illustrated how-to guides. Intervention studies demonstrate the effectiveness of participatory steps that use these toolkits in promoting good practices and reducing work-related risks.


In facilitating ergonomics improvements in small-scale workplaces, it is important to focus on practical, low-cost improvements that build on local good practices. The use of action-oriented toolkits reflecting basic ergonomics principles is helpful.The promotion of the intercountry networking of positive experiences in participatory training is suggested.

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