eLearning as an effective preventing tool to improve the understanding and motivation of Computer Ergonomics
Paper in proceedings, 2012
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are common today; about 50% of all computer users show some physical problems, which may cause a decrease in work performance, resulting in large costs for individuals, companies and society. Shoulders, neck, arms and hands are especially affected, and thereby the computer work becomes slower and less efficient; productivity decreases up to 25% have been noticed. In the long run prolonged pain can arise. eLearning is a new effective way of presenting ergonomic information at computer work places. The goal is to prevent computer related problems by improving motivation and understanding of how an optimal workplace should be designed and used, i.e. how an active relaxed working technique could be applied.
Ergonomhuset AB in Göteborg, Sweden has developed a 40 minutes eLearning Computer Ergonomics® programme. It consists of interactive sequences, short films, and practical exercises, and provides advice for computer work preventing RSI. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the program among computer workers. The aim was to understand if the information resulted in increased awareness of body overload signals and increased motivation for a change. Further interest was to see what changes the participants have done at their computer work places.
The eLearning program was given to 18 people at a company in Göteborg during 5 weeks. The program contains of 8 short parts (3-7 minutes each) and deals with how the body works, discomfort, stress, risks, prevention and advise. The separate parts can be viewed whenever the individual wants, as many times as required. A background questionnaire was given before the programme was introduced about working situation, equipment and physical problems. Each week a questionnaire was filled regarding how many times and which parts of the programme they had seen, workplace changes made and physical problems. In the end, a final larger questionnaire and interviews were performed.
Results and conclusion
Most participants had seen all parts of the programme, some of them several times. The awareness of body signals related to discomfort, fatigue and pain increased for all participants. They had also changed their overall working situation. The changes made were more frequent breaks, adjustments of chairs, desks and computer equipment, as well as reorganisation of work tasks. To conclude eLearning is an efficient and cost effective way to reach and motivate many people with information on individual basis on how they can prevent muscular skeletal problems during computer work.