Work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck are one of the most common occupational disorders around the world. It is likely that addressing ergonomic factors, such as the design of workplace equipment or the environment, or both, as well as training workers in ergonomic principles may reduce the risk of workers developing these musculoskeletal disorders. This Cochrane review presents what we know from research about the effect of workplace ergonomic interventions for preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck.
We included 13 studies involving 2397 workers in this systematic review. We judged one study to have a low risk of bias. Four studies evaluated the effectiveness of ergonomically designed equipment, and four studies evaluated the effectiveness of breaks or reduced work hours in preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and neck. A further three studies evaluated the effectiveness of training in ergonomic principles and techniques, while one study evaluated this training in combination with ergonomically designed equipment and one study evaluated the effectiveness of a safe lifting intervention.
The results of this review suggest that the use of arm support together with an alternative mouse may prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the neck and shoulder but not those of the right upper limb. The use of arm support alone or alternative mouse alone is not effective. However, given there were multiple comparisons made involving a number of interventions and outcomes, more high-quality research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these interventions clearly. This review was not able to determine the effectiveness of other ergonomic interventions for preventing musculoskeletal disorder of the upper limb and neck.