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WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation is an interdisciplinary, international journal which publishes high quality peer-reviewed manuscripts covering the entire scope of the occupation of work. The journal's subtitle has been deliberately laid out: The first goal is the prevention of illness, injury, and disability. When this goal is not achievable, the attention focuses on assessment to design client-centered intervention, rehabilitation, treatment, or controls that use scientific evidence to support best practice.
WORK occasionally publishes thematic issues, but in general, issues cover a wide range of topics such as ergonomic considerations with children, youth and students, the challenges facing an aging workforce, workplace violence, injury management, performing artists, ergonomic product evaluations, and the awareness of the political, cultural, and environmental determinants of health related to work.
Dr. Karen Jacobs, the founding editor, and her editorial board especially encourage the publication of research studies, clinical practice, case study reports, as well as personal narratives and critical reflections of lived work experiences (autoethnographic/autobiographic scholarship),
Sounding Board commentaries and
Speaking of Research articles which provide the foundation for better understanding research to facilitate knowledge dissemination.
Narrative Reflections on Occupational Transitions, a new column, is for persons who have successfully transitioned into, between, or out of occupations to tell their stories in a narrative form. With an internationally renowned editorial board,
WORK maintains high standards in the evaluation and publication of manuscripts. All manuscripts are reviewed expeditiously and published in a timely manner.
WORK prides itself on being an author-friendly journal.
WORK celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015.
*WORK is affiliated with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)* *WORK is endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA)* *WORK gives out the yearly Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award*
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Organizations are increasingly required to reduce their environmental impact through the adoption of environmental management, which requires the support of human resource practices. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to determine whether human resource management practices, especially training, are supporting environmental management practices at four hotels located in Brazil. METHODS: This research is qualitative, based on the analysis of four hotels in Brazil. RESULTS: Based on the systematized empirical evidence collected from…four hotels (Hotels A, B, C, and D), it can be concluded that: (1) human resource management is still not fully aligned with environmental objectives at the hotels studied; (2) only Hotel B has implemented environmental management practices and aligned with human resource management in a more developed manner, which may indicate that these two variables of analysis could have interrelations; (3) environmental training as a human resource management practice was verified in all hotels analyzed. CONCLUSIONS: The greening of human resources practices is not fully aligned with environmental objectives in the hotels studied. If these hotels really wish to "go green," environmental training will be necessary. Hotel stakeholders play a major role in implementing the greening of the hotel industry.
Keywords: Green human resource management, sustainable human resources, training, environmental sustainability, hotels, service industry, Brazil, hospitality industry
Abstract: BACKGROUND: When discussing ergonomics, the term 'sustainability' usually refers to the preservation of the human workforce. OBJECTIVE: However, in 2010 Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation made a conscious effort to combine ergonomics and environmental sustainability in order to increase employee engagement for both programs. METHODS: They introduced a companywide campaign called Green Ergo which is the idea of creating ergonomic solutions from scrap material found on site. This concept embraced the true meaning of 'green' and encouraged engineers…and employees all across the company to design innovative green ergonomic solutions. RESULTS: The idea generated over 35 new ergo solutions, reduced waste production, and solved over 700 ergo problems for a fraction of the cost of newly purchased items. CONCLUSION: The demand for these items grew large enough that the company outsourced their manufacturing to a local non-profit. The Green Ergo campaign has changed the culture of the company and has increased the level of buy-in for both the ergonomics and sustainability programs.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Green building standards are significantly impacting modern construction practices. The resulting structures are more energy efficient, but their impact on occupant health has not been widely studied. OBJECTIVE: To investigate a range of indoor environment and ergonomic issues in green buildings. METHODS: Retrospective post-occupancy evaluation survey of 319 occupants in two Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and one conventional building on a Canadian…University campus. RESULTS: Results show that working in the LEED buildings was a generally positive experience for their health, performance, and satisfaction. However, the LEED buildings did not always receive the highest ratings for environmental conditions or for health and productivity. Respondents indicated a range of concerns with thermal conditions, office lighting, noise and their overall workstation designs and these were not always better in the green buildings. CONCLUSIONS: These results highlight the need for better integration of ergonomic design into green buildings and into the LEED rating system, and these implications are discussed.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The pursuit of efficiency and the permeation of communication technologies in modern workplace have increased prolonged sitting and physical inactivity among the white-collar workforce. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing various chronic diseases and obesity. OBJECTIVE: This study intends to understand the impact of physical environment on both voluntary and imperative physical activity levels in an office building, and to collect evidence for design suggestions to encourage office workers' activity level…on a daily basis. This study examined how proximity from individual workstations to various shared service and amenity spaces in the workplace (e.g., meeting spaces, copy areas, kitchens, restrooms, elevators, and stairs) is associated with office workers' physical activity level (e.g., sedentary and non-sedentary behavior) and their environmental and job satisfaction. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: To objectively measure physical activity, twenty-six office workers, in a three-story office building, wore accelerometers for three consecutive days at work. Environmental and job satisfaction of office workers was measured by a questionnaire. Proximity variables were measured using the floor plans of the subject building. CONCLUSIONS: Participants on average were sedentary for 80% of the time during the study. Proximity to several service and amenity areas was positively associated with step counts and job satisfaction.
Keywords: Workplace, sedentary behavior, shared service and amenity spaces
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Based on improvements in indoor environmental quality claims are that 'green' buildings are healthier and promote greater productivity than conventional buildings. However, the empirical evidence over the last decade has been inconclusive, usually with flawed study designs. OBJECTIVE: This study explored whether a 'green' building leads to a healthier, more productive work environment. METHODS: A one-year, longitudinal comparison of two groups of employees of a large commercial bank; a group that moved into a…GreenStar-accredited building and a group that stayed in a conventional building, was conducted. Measures of psychological wellbeing, physical wellbeing, productivity, and perceptions of the physical environment were taken before the move, six months later, and one year later. RESULTS: Results indicate that the 'green' building group had significantly increased self-reported productivity and physical wellbeing. The perceptions of the physical work environment indicate that respondents in the 'green' building group experienced significant air quality improvements (specifically, reduced stale air, better ventilation, improved air movement, reduced humidity, and conditions that were not too drafty) but perceived the lighting conditions as dimmer. CONCLUSION: Despite positive findings 'green' building rating tools require amendment to focus on those qualities that actually lead to improved wellbeing and productivity.
Abstract: In the last twenty years, terms such as sustainable development, environmental protection, and sustainable design have been widely exploited, often without justification. Does ergonomics have a legitimate need or right to use these terms and to be the part of the process to which they refer? This paper discusses the relationship between ergonomics and the concept of sustainable development and its three elements of sustainability (environmental, social and economic), as the steps ergonomists need to take to…secure and strengthen the influence in sustainability topics.
Abstract: Despite guidance from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) on the requirements for earning a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ergonomics credit in the Innovation in Design and Innovation in Operations category, few projects have received the credit. The University of California, Berkeley ergonomics program, [email protected], has aligned the ergonomics strategy to those of the USGBC and LEED to achieve the ergonomics credit in several new buildings. This article describes the steps…needed to obtain the credit and highlights the opportunities it creates to partner with the project team to promote ergonomics. As a profession it is up to ergonomists to create the road map that incorporates ergonomics into the green building design.
Abstract: A project undertaken in the Central Cleaning Department of Janssen, a Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical company, demonstrates how ergonomics, environmental and industrial hygiene risks and quality concerns can be tackled simultaneously. The way equipment was cleaned was re-designed by an in-house cross-functional team to ensure a 'clean, lean and green' process. Initiatives included a new layout of the area, and new work processes and equipment to facilitate cleaning and handling items. This resulted in significant…improvements: all ergonomics high risk tasks were reduced to moderate or low risk; hearing protection was no longer required; respirator requirement reduced by 67%; solvent use reduced by 73%; productivity improved, with 55% fewer operator hours required; and quality improved 40-fold. The return on investment was estimated at 3.125 years based on an investment of over �1.5 million (2008 prices). This win-win intervention allowed ergonomics, environmental, industrial hygiene, productivity and quality concerns all to be addressed.
Keywords: Green ergonomics, process redesign, environmental benefit
Abstract: BACKGROUND: By introducing policies for sustainability and social responsibility, companies declare their interest in caring for all stakeholders, including workers. OBJECTIVE: To analyze how and which themes related to work practices and to workers are approached in the discourse of corporations are considered sustainable and socially responsible. Based on ergonomic principles, more elements are brought into this discussion, viewed from a strategic perspective for the development of corporations and society. PARTICIPANTS: Data collected…from 20 corporations considered more sustainable according to an assessment made by the Corporate Knights organization. METHODS: Multiple-case study, based on the analysis of secondary sources content (websites and reports). Analysis of websites and reports by their content, and their classification according to the aspects present in the thematic of work practices and of human rights elaborated by standard ISO 26000. RESULTS: Corporations show that the worker is one of the stakeholders to be considered in their sustainability and social responsibility policies. However, it's not possible using this method to obtain effective evidences related to actual programs performed by companies in order to demonstrate the real importance of workers in sustainable polices. CONCLUSIONS: The discipline of ergonomics could be active in improving the implementation of corporate social responsibility policies, especially by emphasizing the social dimension of these policies.
Keywords: Work practices, corporate social responsibility, corporate sustainability, corporate strategic policies
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is a major cause of work absence. Assisting individuals back into work is an important part of rehabilitation. OBJECTIVE: To explore the experiences of individuals returning to work after an episode of sickness absence due to LBP. PARTICIPANTS: Five women employed by a UK University who had returned to work. METHOD: In this qualitative study, participants underwent semi-structured interviews about their experiences. The transcripts were…analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. RESULTS: Two primary themes emerged 1) perceived pressure to return to work and 2) strategies employed to relieve the pressure to return. Pressure to return to work arose from a number of sources including guilt and a personal work ethic, internally, and from colleagues and management, externally. This pressure led to the individual employing a number of strategies to reduce it. These ranged from a simple denial of health concerns and decision to return to work regardless of their condition, to placing the responsibility of the decision not to return to work onto a significant other, such as a family member or health care professional. CONCLUSIONS: Individuals returning to work with LBP experience considerable pressure to return and use a range of strategies to mediate that pressure.
Keywords: Rehabilitation, work absence, interpretative phenomenological analysis
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This article presents the results of an investigation into the thermal aspect of workplaces of the metallurgical branch of furniture manufacturing, looking for the number of dissatisfied people in the environment. OBJECTIVES: This study aims to analyze the thermal suitability of a metallurgical industrial environment, from four interpretations of vote +1/−1 (slightly warm or slightly cool) on the thermal sensation range, reported by workers. METHODS: The methodological approach consists of quantitative…research and a literature review set for this work, composed of spreadsheets and statistical processing of data. Data collection took place through the use of environmental variables measurement equipment and software for statistical assistance. RESULTS: The results indicate an average above 35% of workers dissatisfied with the environment, thus, portraying the lack of suitability. CONCLUSIONS: It was noted, further, that, although average temperatures may be between 21°C to 28°C, workplace improvements can be made, so that the thermal sensations will be satisfactory.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: No self-management interventions have been developed to empower those chronically disabled by a musculoskeletal condition to find and/or remain at work. OBJECTIVE: Developand evaluate the content of two self-management training modules to improve vocational outcomes for those with chronic musculoskeletal disorders. METHODS: Stanford University's Chronic Disease Self-Management Program provided the framework for the new modules. Focus groups with the eightpersons with workdisabilities and concept-mapping sessions with the 12…experienced vocational rehabilitation professionals were conducted to identify factors and themes contributing to workers remaining/returning to work post-injury. Five experienced self-management trainers reviewed the modules for consistency with self-management principles. RESULTS: Two new self-management modules: 'Navigating the System' and 'Managing a Return to Work' were developed.The persons with work disabilitiesgenerated four themes: accepting and coping with injury; skills to manage pain and life; positive working relationships and, re-inventing self, whereas the rehabilitation professionals identified three themes:communication and support of others; the injured worker's abilities and resources, and knowledge and education. CONCLUSIONS: Anintervention developed to enhance self-management skills and facilitate positive vocational outcomes of those seeking to return to work post-injury was confirmed as relevant by persons with work disabilities, rehabilitation professionals and self-management trainers.
Keywords: Rehabilitation, work, recovery of function, patient education, worker empowerment
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The Work Ability Model has a holistic structure that incorporates individual characteristics, work-related factors and life outside of work. The model has been explored in the context of Finland but still needs to be applied in other countries. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between age, health, work and work ability in a sample of Brazilian municipal employees. METHOD: A sample of 5,646 workers answered a…web-survey questionnaire that collected information about socio-demographics, health, work characteristics and work ability. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine the simultaneous relationships between the variables that comprise the Work Ability Model. RESULTS: The sample was predominantly female (68.0%), between 30 and 49 years old (60.0%) and highly educated (66.0%). SEM produced good fit indexes that supported the Work Ability Model. Age was positively related to work ability and negatively related to health. Health and work characteristics positively influenced work ability. CONCLUSIONS: The results produced additional support for the conceptualization of work ability as a complex and dynamic phenomenon: a system composed of an individual and various elements of his/her work interact in time and space in a nonlinear way.
Keywords: Sick leave, physical workload, stressful job, public sector, SEM
Abstract: We analyzed a case study for rolling gas cylinders for a large technology company in Taiwan. Four experienced employees participated in this study. The cylinder transporting postures of participants were photographed for Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) and a goniometer was used for data gathering. The results showed that for atilt rolling movement and positioning of gas cylinders, the postures assessed by RULA all exceeded Action Level 3. The repetitive activity for each wrist was as…high as 1 time/s. The radial deviation for each wrist and the dorsiflexion on the right wrist nearly reached the maximum range of motion. This suggested that the tasks might potentially cause injury to the upper limbs (particularly the wrists) and require action "investigation and changes are required soon", as suggested by RULA. The results of this case analysis can be preliminarily used as a reference for related operation evaluation and improvement.
Abstract: BACKGOUND: In Canada and other countries, sickness absence among workers is a significant concern. Local return-to-work policies developed by both management and workers' representatives are preferred to tackle the problem. OBJECTIVE: This article examines how managers perceive this local bipartite agreed upon return-to-work policy, wherein a social constructivist view on the policy process is taken. METHODS: In-depth interviews were held with 10 managers on their experiences with execution of this policy in…a Canadian healthcare organization. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and qualitative analyses were completed to gain deep insight into the managers' perspectives. RESULTS: Results show that the managers viewed themselves as a linchpin between the workplace and the worker. They did not feel heard by the other stakeholders, wrestled with worker's limitations, struggled getting plans adjusted and became overextended to meet return-to-work objectives. CONCLUSIONS: The study shows that the managers felt unable to meet the responsibilities the policy demanded and got less involved in the return-to-work process than this policy intended. RTW policy needs to balance on the one hand, flexibility to safeguard active involvement of managers and, on the other hand, strictness regarding taking responsibility by stakeholders, particularly the health care and re-integration professionals.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Because of the aging working population and the increasing age of retirement the number of workers with chronic illnesses and disabilities is growing. It is important that workers with health complaints receive efficient health care in order to remain fully or at least partly productive. OBJECTIVE: To explore workers' opinions about the effectiveness of contact with health care providers in shortening sickness absence duration. METHODS: Data come from a four-wave study…from 2005 to 2008 among Dutch workers (n=1,424). Data were obtained on visits to health care providers, sickness absence and workers' opinions on whether and how their absence could have been shortened. RESULTS: A third of the workers were of the opinion that the health care provider (most often the general practitioner, GP) had played a role in preventing sickness absence and 35% were of the opinion that the health care provider had limited their absence. Most often the physical therapist (71%) and mental health therapist (61%) shortened sickness absence duration, in contrast to the occupational physician (OP, 25%) and GP (32%). The effectiveness of the health care providers' treatment was associated with the cause of sickness absence. Approximately 15% of the workers reported that their sickness absence could have been shortened if health care providers had provided the proper treatment and if waiting times had been reduced. CONCLUSIONS: Health care providers differ in their potential to shorten sickness absence duration. Health care providers can further reduce sickness absence and health care costs by providing the proper treatment and by reducing waiting times.
Keywords: Health care, sickness absence, effectiveness, care-seeking
Abstract: BACKGROUND: With increasing access at European universities, supporting and promoting the high education, students' mental well-being and generic employability capacities have become priorities, but their respective influences, after an adaptation period of seven months, remain unclear. OBJECTIVE: Our aims were to analyse the relationships between students' well-being and self-perceived academic employability skills, and other social and environmental factors. METHODS: Three hundred and twenty-one freshmen students at the end of their first year…completed an online questionnaire. Two instruments were used to assess well-being: the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), which explores psychological suffering, and the psychological quality of life subdomain of the Whoqol-bref. RESULTS: Psychological Whoqol-bref scores are linked to the academic employability skills (AES) items of drafting, critical spirit, problem-solving, teamwork, and supervision/direction of others, and has positive effects on AES score and on the following Whoqol-bref domains: physical, social relationships and environmental. Although three of six psychological Whoqol-bref items (ability to concentrate, satisfaction with self, negative feelings) are correlated with GHQ-12 items (sleeping, decision-making, feeling under strain, problem-solving, depression, self-confidence, thinking about self, feeling happy). GHQ-12 score is negatively linked with Whoqol-bref physical. CONCLUSIONS: For better quality of life, and improved employability skills, innovative activities should be developed to ascertain the sustainable academic's abilities of students.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Hispanic (Latino) construction workers experience disparities in occupational death and injury rates in the United States. The cultural value of respect for those in authority may hinder these workers from requesting safe working conditions from supervisors. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether Hispanic construction workers in Las Vegas, Nevada found assertiveness training more useful than non-Hispanic trainees and whether or not they practiced this behavior at work after the training. METHODS: An assertiveness training simulation was part…of fall prevention classes offered to area construction workers. Eight weeks after the training, participants were interviewed by telephone about class topics they found most useful and whether or not they had made any subsequent behavior changes at work. RESULTS: More than half of the 760 fall prevention trainees completed telephone interviews. A smaller proportion of Hispanic trainees found assertiveness training to be useful (11%) than non-Hispanics (28%) (p⩽ 0.001). Only 2% of both groups identified practicing assertiveness at work. CONCLUSIONS: A large proportion of Hispanic trainees valued other knowledge more highly. They may weigh job security as more important than speaking up about safety issues, which might threaten their employment. Interventions to improve safety should focus instead on improving work safety climate and engineering controls.
Keywords: Latino workers, occupational injury, Prevention through design
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the factor structure of the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale (MSIS-29) to assess its suitability for modeling the impact of MS on a nation-wide sample of individuals from the United States. Investigators completed a Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) to examine the two-factor structure proposed by Hobart et al. . Although the original MSIS-29 factor structure did not fit the data exactly, the hypothesized two-factor model was partially supported in…the current data. Implications for future instrument development and rehabilitation practice are discussed.