Office Ergonomic Training Research

Dr Elizabeth Kirk has been at the forefront of Australian research on the effectiveness of office ergonomics training methods and techniques.

She has undertaken significant research exploring the effect that different office ergonomic training delivery methods (rather than content) has on reported levels of musculoskeletal discomfort among agents.

Her PhD thesis explored current office ergonomic training methods, barriers to the application of office ergonomic knowledge as work skills and vocational training methods designed to ensure training is transferred to the workplace. This research also identified the need for training to deliver a greater range of health and safety skills for office workers.

As part of her research, Dr Kirk developed a world first office ergonomics training program based on the practical application of knowledge as work skills. The effectiveness of this program was tested at two call centres.

The results from these trials were more than significant. They were well beyond expectations.

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Levels of physical discomfort before training

Before training, the self-report physical discomfort surveys recorded the baseline levels of discomfort in each the call centre. The yellow column shows the total level of discomfort in one call centre for each body segment. This survey showed that over 86% of agents felt some level of discomfort and that there was no significant difference between those feeling ‘Just Noticeable’ and ‘Moderate’ levels.

Comparison of levels of physical discomfort after training

Anecdotal Reported Results

Within an hour of rolling out the one-on-one training session, agents reported that their headaches had gone, and that their necks felt more comfortable.

Within a month, one agent reported she had previously been seeing a physiotherapist monthly due to a stiff neck and headaches. After training her neck stiffness and headaches had improved so much, that she did not need to see her physiotherapist for a number of months.

Statistical Results

One month after training, a second physical discomfort questionnaire was completed. The reported levels of musculoskeletal discomfort were significantly reduced in all body segments.

The results showed a reduction in musculoskeletal discomfort between 49% to 100%.

  • The blue column is the level of discomfort before the training.
  • The orange column is the level of discomfort after the training.
  • The yellow column represents the relative % change in levels of discomfort.

These results were achieved through the new training methodology created by Dr Kirk.

There was no additional equipment or furniture, and no new health initiatives such as seated massages.

Find Out More

To read more about the research, please refer to the following published articles.

Kirk, E., Strong, J., and Burgess-Limerick, R. (2013). Developing Computer Competencies for eWorkers within Call Centres, Work: A Journal of Prevention Assessment and Rehabilitation, 46, 283-295, ISSN 1051-9815 (Print), 1875-9270 (Online)

Kirk, E., Strong, J., and Burgess-Limerick, R. (2010). Management of eWork Health Issues: A New Perspective On an Old Problem, Work: A Journal of Prevention Assessment and Rehabilitation, 35, 173-181, ISSN 1051-9815 (Print) 1875-9270 (Online)

Read a copy of Dr Kirk’s PhD Thesis

Kirk, E., (2013) Building Safe Computer Use Skills Training as a Management Strategy for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Computer Users, PhD Thesis

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