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Options Online Newsletter, June 2010


I hope this email finds you in good health and good spirits! We, at Options Incorporated wish you all the best in 2009. We know that this year could be a challenging one and are focused on ensuring that all of our services are customized and scalable to best meet your changing needs. As always, please feel free to contact us to discuss projects or problems you are experiencing as our consultants have diverse ergonomic, injury management, and clinical and applied levels of experience that we can draw from.

The articles and information included in this e-newsletter highlight some of the speaking engagements our consultants have been recently involved in as well as some of the applied research they have conducted. Even if the topics are not directly applicable to your work environment hopefully you will find them interesting and perhaps they will get you thinking about ergonomics in a different manner.

Hope to hear from you soon!

CASE STUDY:  The Influence of a Stretching Program on Caretakers at a School Board

Problem: MSD incidences amongst Caretaking staff at a school board were of concern. An aging workforce in combination with the MSD incidence rate led to the decision to implement a stretching program with Caretakers at 4 schools, on a pilot program basis. Volunteer custodians at each school were trained in the stretching protocol. These trainers then led their co-workers at their respective schools in the stretching program one time per day, for four months.

The purpose of our study was to investigate if the stretching program designed for Caretakers would increase their flexibility and would they “feel” better at work as a result of the stretching program. We also investigated whether stretching twice per day was more beneficial than stretching once per day.

Results of the program included significant improvements in range of motion for body movements. Those who stretched twice per day had more improvements than those who stretched once per day. In addition, for those Caretakers who had been experiencing discomfort at work, their discomfort was reduced by the end of the program in most body regions.

Results of the pilot program have subsequently led to the development of a stretching video. This video which will be made available to any Caretaker throughout the Board, who would like to participate in the program on a volunteer basis.

The outcomes of this research study will provide employers and ergonomists with insight into the benefits of a stretching program when used as an administrative ergonomic intervention to improve worker comfort.

The Influence of Wall Painting on Shoulder Muscle Activity and Horizontal Push Force
by Patricia M. Rosati & Clark R. Dickerson
Department of Kinesiology
University of Waterloo

  Downloadable in Adobe Format

An Effective Way for Individuals to Identify Ergonomic Concerns with their Workstations

Options Inc. has developed an online Office Ergonomics Training Program, “Office Ergo On-line”, to provide clients a cost effective and time efficient means of training their employees on office ergonomics. The program encourages workers to make ergonomic changes to their workstations independently and includes a reporting and tracking feature that permits follow up contact from someone within the company for additional help when needed. In order to evaluate this program, an applied study was conducted at a local company. The results and study details are summarized in the following document.


A study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of the online program. The program was provided to 17 participants who worked for one company, and completed 50 to 100 percent of their work on the computer. To establish a “base-line” for each workstation, prior to the implementation of the program, an Ergonomist from Options Inc. visited the workstation and completed an assessment through observation only, with minimal discussion with the employee. An assessment form was used, using a Yes/No format with all “Yes” answers scored as a 1 and all “No” answers as a 0. Participants then conducted the online program, during which they were guided in a step-by-step manner on how to arrange their workstation to best suit their needs from an ergonomic standpoint. Following completion of the training program, the same Ergonomist completed a post-assessment of the workstation, using the same form as the pre-assessment, to determine what changes were made to the workstation and whether they were ergonomically correct.


To determine the effectiveness of the program, the results from the pre and post-assessments were compared, along with participant responses to the Comfort Survey and a Feedback and Usability questionnaire. Results from 12 of the 17 participants were used, as the 5 remaining participants either did not complete the program or had changed workstations, therefore causing the pre-assessment to be invalid.

Of the 12 participants, 9 made changes to their workstation independently. Two of the participants contacted (via telephone or email) the medical dept. for assistance with changes and 14 (of the original 17) participants requested additional help within the “Office Ergo On-Line” program feedback areas. Based on the Ergonomist’s assessment, 11 of the 14 (78%) requests for assistance were required.

Comparison of the Ergonomist’s assessment score before and after the participants completed the “Office Ergo On-line” program showed that, on average, each participant improved. The average score improved to 15.75 from the initial average score of 14.50. A perfect assessment score, using the form, is 21. Of the 21 questions used on the Ergonomist’s assessment form, only 4 were rated lower after the program was used, with the remaining 17 either improving or having no change (11) or were rated at the maximum score before and after using the program (6).

Direct comparison of the Ergonomist’s assessment of the changes made by the participants demonstrate that 58-84% of the participants were able to accurately assess their chair posture (58%), back support (75%), typing posture (68%), monitor height (84%) and monitor distance (75%). Participants had difficulty assessing reach zone issues, as only 41% were able to accurately assess this issue.

Of the participants who completed the Comfort Survey, 4 of 12 participants, all discomfort indicated by the employees was validated with the Ergonomist’s assessment of their workstation. It should be noted, that additional areas of potential discomfort were identified by the Ergonomist but discomfort in these areas was not reported by participants. This can be explained in terms of latency of symptoms, the discomfort may not be currently present but could become acute in the future if the area of concern is not addressed.

The participants completed a User Questionnaire after completing the program. The results of the questionnaire showed that:

  • 100% of the participants understood the instructions and were able to navigate through the program without difficulties;
  • 100% of participants reported the program easy to use; &
  • 78% found the instructions on making the changes easy to implement with 23% having some difficulties.


As a result of this introductory study, it can be seen that the Office Ergo On-line is a value added tool and an effective method of sharing ergonomic knowledge and guiding workers through the process of independent workstation adjustment.

From the results collected:

  • The participants were able to identify concerns with their workstations;
  • The participants were able to make some limited changes on their own and these changes resulted in improvements to their workstations; &
  • The program was easy to use.

Implementation of the Office Ergo On-line program can be completed with minimal resources as it is run off an external server and all data is managed through Options Incorporated. If you are looking to increase knowledge of your staff in an easy to access, convenient, easy to understand, and proven manner then please contact us to arrange access to a “free” demonstration.

A simplified version of this online training tool, without the reporting and tracking feature, is available "free" for your use at the below link.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Is It Work-Related?
by Patricia M. Rosati
Ergonomic Consultant
Options Inc.
January 2009

  Downloadable in Adobe Format

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