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J Occup Health. 2017 May 25;59(3):256-266. doi: 10.1539/joh.16-0244-OA. Epub 2017 Mar 17.

A randomized controlled trial of the effect of participatory ergonomic low back pain training on workplace improvement.

Author information

Department of Occupational Health Practice and Management, Institute of Industrial Ecological Science, University of Occupational and Environmental Health.
Department of Ergonomics, Institute of Industrial Ecological Science, University of Occupational and Environmental Health.
Department of Medical Informatics and Management, University of Occupational and Environmental Health.
Occupational Health Training Center, University of Occupational and Environmental Health.



This study aimed to determine the effects of participatory workplace improvement (PWI) -based provision of ergonomic training and ergonomic action checklists (ACLs) to on-site managers on workplace improvement activities for low back pain (LBP).


A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted at a manufacturing company in Japan. Teams entered in the study were randomly assigned to a control and an intervention group. A total of three interventional training sessions on methods of ergonomics were provided to on-site managers in the intervention group, with 1-month intervals between sessions. Ergonomic ACLs were provided at the same time. After completion of the training sessions, each team then provided a report of improvements each month for the next 10 months. Two people in charge of safety and health chose two major objectives of the implemented activities from the five categories. The reported number of improvements was analyzed using a Poisson regression model.


In the intervention group, although the incident rate ratio (IRR) of PWIs in countermeasures for the LBP category was significantly elevated after the training sessions, the IRR of improvements decreased over time during the 10-month follow-up period. No significant difference was observed in the IRR of total PWIs in either the control or intervention group.


PWI-based provision of ergonomic training sessions and ergonomics ACLs to on-site managers was shown to be effective for workplace improvement activities targeted at LBP. However, because the effects decrease over time, efforts should be made to maintain the effects through regular interventions.


Action Checklist (ACL); Low Back Pain (LBP); Participatory Action Oriented Training (PAOT); Participatory Ergonomics (PE); Participatory Workplace Improvement (PWI); Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)

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