Ketola R, Häkkänen M, Toivonen R, Takala E-P, Viikari-Juntura E
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki
Computers facilitate and make work more efficient in many professions. In Finland in 1996, 57% of the women and 55% of the men used a video display unit (VDU) in their work (Statistics Finland 1996). The use of graphics software and non-keyboard input devices, e.g. mouse, has increased rapidly causing new demands for the design of office work places. Poorly designed VDU work has been associated with a variety of physical and psychosocial problems. Redesign and improvements in ergonomics have generally been recommended as a solution for musculoskeletal disorders in VDU work. Scientific evidence on the effects of ergonomics is, however, scanty.
We carried out a randomised controlled trial on the effects of ergonomic changes in VDU work. The study includes three different interventions and investigates their effects on neck, shoulder and upper extremity symptoms.
The study was carried out in three administrational centres of a medium-sized city in Finland. Employees working in the office at least 4 hours per week (n=515) were asked to fill in a questionnaire in January 1998. Organisational and environmental factors of VDU work, time working with input devices and various types of software, general health, psychosocial stress, and musculoskeletal symptoms were inquired. A total of 410 employees (80%) replied to the questionnaire.