New office ergonomics e-learning program launched to mark RSI Awareness Day

February 26, 2015 (Toronto, Ontario)—A new online office ergonomics training program was jointly launched today by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and the Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA). Evidence-based and standard-compliant, eOfficeErgo: Ergonomics e-Learning for Office Workers is being made available as organizations across the country prepare to mark International Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day, which takes place annually on the last day of February.

With the growth in office environments and the large number of people working mainly at their desks with computers, helping workplaces prevent musculoskeletal injuries among office workers is of increasing importance, says Monica Szabo, PSHSA’s Executive Director, Government and Public Safety. This program can help managers and workers understand the issues around these injuries and how to minimize risk.

In any given year, anywhere from 24 to 44 per cent of office workers report the presence of pain and discomfort in their neck, shoulder, arms or hands, according to large-scale surveys. A less-than-optimal set-up of a computer workstation can increase the risk for musculoskeletal disorders and poorer workplace performance, says IWH Senior Scientist Dr. Ben Amick, who led the research team that developed the e-learning program. Our research shows that this online office ergonomics program improves worker practices and postures.

eOfficeErgo is made up of nine modules that cover everything from working postures to workstation adjustments, with instructional information presented through text, photos, video and interactive components designed to engage users. Review questions and exercises to reinforce key concepts are included throughout. The training is self-paced (i.e. learners can complete modules as their time allows), with each module taking about 10 minutes to complete. The training supports, but does not replace, the expertise of trained professionals to conduct workstation assessments and provide further insights on ongoing issues.

The online training program was developed by IWH in partnership with the U.S.-based Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. An international scientific panel of academic and practising ergonomists reviewed the content to ensure it complied with current scientific findings and international standards, including the Canadian Standards Association’s CSA-Z412-00 (R2011): Guideline on Office Ergonomics. The program was then made more workplace-relevant and user-friendly after incorporating feedback from the University of Waterloo’s Usability and Interactive Technology Lab (USE-IT) and from a pilot test of the program at CAMH.

PSHSA joined the team during the second stage of the program’s development to make the training more engaging and to help make the training ready to use in a wide variety of workplaces. It ensured the e-learning tool is compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). It also adapted the program so that it can be used on Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)-compliant Learning Management System (LMS) platforms.

eOfficeErgo provides a training solution that can be delivered quickly and consistently by workplaces, says IWH Associate Scientist Dwayne Van Eerd, who was also on the research team that developed the program. It increases the knowledge and self-efficacy of office workers to make simple changes to their workstations, postures and practices to reduce the hazards that contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and to increase their comfort, health and productivity on the job.

The office ergonomics training tool is now available to workplaces in two different formats: a SCORM-compliant version, which allows workplaces to track who has successfully completed the training, and a web-based version. Both can be accessed through IWH at www.iwh.on.ca/eOfficeErgo or through PSHSA at www.pshsa.ca/e-learning/office-ergonomics. A short preview of the course is offered in this YouTube video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEf8JLVNVnM

About the Institute for Work & Health

IWH is an independent, not-for-profit research organization that aims to protect and improve the health of working people. Recognized as one of the top five occupational health and safety research centres in the world, the Institute provides practical and relevant findings on the prevention of work injury and disability to policy-makers, workers, employers, clinicians, and health, safety and disability management professionals: www.iwh.on.ca

About the Public Services Health & Safety Association

PSHSA works with Ontario’s public and broader public sector workers and employers, providing occupational health and safety training, resources and consulting to reduce workplace risks and prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. It has the people, knowledge and solutions to help organizations become top performers with an inherent culture of health and safety. Its consulting approach focuses on establishing long-term strategic relationships in order to meet the unique needs of its clients. To find out more, go to www.pshsa.ca.

About International RSI Awareness Day

Communities across Ontario, Canada and around the world have proclaimed the last day of February International RSI Awareness Day. On this day, special events are held to build awareness about and action on repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the impact these injuries have on workers, their families and the community, and the measures that can be taken to prevent them.

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Cindy Moser
Communications Manager
Institute for Work & Health
416-927-2027, ext. 2183 (office)
705.872.1939 (cell)
cmoser@iwh.on.ca

Bria Jordan
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Public Services Health & Safety Association
416-250-2131
1-877-250-7444 (toll free)
bjordan@pshsa.ca