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1.  Use of Ergonomic Measures Related to Musculoskeletal Complaints among Construction Workers: A 2-year Follow-up Study 
Safety and Health at Work  2015;6(2):90-96.
The physical work demands of construction work can be reduced using ergonomic measures. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of ergonomic measures related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among construction workers.
A questionnaire was sent at baseline and 2 years later to 1,130 construction workers. We established (1) the proportion of workers reporting an increase in their use of ergonomic measures, (2) the proportion of workers reporting a decrease in MSDs, (3) the relative risk for an increase in the use of ergonomic measures and a decrease in MSDs, and (4) workers' knowledge and opinions about the use of ergonomic measures.
At follow-up, response rate was 63% (713/1,130). The proportion of workers using ergonomic measures for vertical transport increased (34%, 144/419, p < 0.01); for measures regarding horizontal transport and the positioning of materials, no change was reported. The proportion of workers reporting shoulder complaints decreased (28%, 176/638, p = 0.02). A relationship between the use of ergonomic measures and MSDs was not found; 83% (581/704) of the workers indicated having sufficient knowledge about ergonomic measures. Lightening the physical load was reported to be the main reason for using them.
Only the use of ergonomic measures for vertical transport increased over a 2-year period. No relationship between the use of ergonomic measures and MSDs was found. Strategies aimed at improving the availability of ergonomic equipment complemented with individualized advice and training in using them might be the required next steps to increase the use of ergonomic measures.
PMCID: PMC4476186  PMID: 26106507
construction industry; ergonomics; longitudinal study; musculoskeletal pain
2.  Strategies to reduce safety violations for working from heights in construction companies: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:541.
Safety measures should be applied to reduce work-related fatal and non-fatal fall injuries. However, according to the labor inspectorate, more than 80% of Dutch construction sites violate safety regulations for working from heights. To increase compliance with safety regulations, employers and workers have to select, implement and monitor safety measures. To facilitate this behavioral change, stimulating knowledge awareness and personalized feedback are frequently advocated behavior change techniques. For this study, two behavior change strategies have been developed in addition to the announcement of safety inspections by the labor inspectorate. These strategies consist of 1) face-to-face contacts with safety consultants and 2) direct mail with access to internet facilities. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of these two strategies on the safety violations for working from heights, the process and the cost measures.
This study is a block randomized intervention trial in 27 cities to establish the effects of the face-to-face guidance strategy (N = 9), a direct mailing strategy (N = 9) and a control condition of no guidance (N = 9) on safety violations to record by labor inspectors after three months. A process evaluation for both strategies will be performed to determine program implementation (reach, dose delivered and dose received), satisfaction, knowledge and perceived safety behavior. A cost analysis will be performed to establish the financial costs for both strategies. The present study is in accordance with the CONSORT statement.
This study increases insight into performing practice-based randomized controlled trials. The outcome will help to evaluate the effect of two guidance strategies on safety violations. If these strategies are effective, implementation of these strategies through the national institute of safety and health or labor inspectorate can take place to guide construction companies in complying with safety regulations.
Trial registration
NTR 4298 on 29-nov-2013.
PMCID: PMC4048537  PMID: 24886440
Safety hazards; Working from heights; Safety behavior; Construction industry
3.  Developing a Best-Evidence Pre-employment Medical Examination: An Example from the Construction Industry 
Safety and Health at Work  2014;5(3):165-167.
The Dutch construction industry has introduced a compulsory preemployment medical examination (PE-ME). Best-evidence contents related to specific job demands are, however, lacking and need to be gathered. After the identification of job demands and health problems in the construction industry (systematic literature search and expert meeting), specific job demands and related requirements were defined and instruments proposed. Finally, a work ability assessment was linked to the instruments' outcomes, resulting in the modular character of the developed PE-ME. Twenty-two specific job demands for all Dutch construction jobs were identified, including kneeling/squatting, working under time pressure, and exposure to hazardous substances. The next step was proposing self-report questions, screening questionnaires, clinical tests, and/or performance-based tests, leading to a work ability judgment. “Lifting/carrying” is described as an example. The new modular PE-ME enables a job-specific assessment of work ability to be made for more than 100 jobs in the Dutch construction industry.
PMCID: PMC4213926  PMID: 25379333
high-demand jobs; preemployment medical examination; specific job demands; specific job requirements
4.  Guidance strategies for a participatory ergonomic intervention to increase the use of ergonomic measures of workers in construction companies: a study design of a randomised trial 
More than seven out of 10 Dutch construction workers describe their work as physically demanding. Ergonomic measures can be used to reduce these physically demanding work tasks. To increase the use of ergonomic measures, employers and workers have to get used to other working methods and to maintaining them. To facilitate this behavioural change, participatory ergonomics (PE) interventions could be useful. For this study a protocol of a PE intervention is adapted in such a way that the intervention can be performed by an ergonomics consultant through face-to-face contacts or email contacts. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the face-to-face guidance strategy and the e-guidance strategy on the primary outcome measure: use of ergonomic measures by individual construction workers, and on the secondary outcome measures: the work ability, physical functioning and limitations due to physical problems of individual workers.
The present study is a randomised intervention trial of six months in 12 companies to establish the effects of a PE intervention guided by four face-to-face contacts (N = 6) or guided by 13 email contacts (N = 6) on the primary and secondary outcome measures at baseline and after six months. Construction companies are randomly assigned to one of the guidance strategies with the help of a computer generated randomisation table. In addition, a process evaluation for both strategies will be performed to determine reach, dose delivered, dose received, precision, competence, satisfaction and behavioural change to find possible barriers and facilitators for both strategies. A cost-benefit analysis will be performed to establish the financial consequences of both strategies. The present study is in accordance with the CONSORT statement.
The outcome of this study will help to 1) evaluate the effect of both guidance strategies, and 2) find barriers to and facilitators of both guidance strategies. When these strategies are effective, implementation within occupational health services can take place to guide construction companies (and others) with the implementation of ergonomic measures.
Trail registration
Trailnumber: ISRCTN73075751, Date of registration: 30 July 2013.
PMCID: PMC3997435  PMID: 24742300
Participatory ergonomics; Ergonomic measures; Physical work demands; Construction industry
5.  Improving occupational health care for construction workers: a process evaluation 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:218.
To evaluate the process of a job-specific workers’ health surveillance (WHS) in improving occupational health care for construction workers.
From January to July 2012 were 899 bricklayers and supervisors invited for the job-specific WHS at three locations of one occupational health service throughout the Netherlands. The intervention aimed at detecting signs of work-related health problems, reduced work capacity and/or reduced work functioning. Measurements were obtained using a recruitment record and questionnaires at baseline and follow-up. The process evaluation included the following: reach (attendance rate), intervention dose delivered (provision of written recommendations and follow-up appointments), intervention dose received (intention to follow-up on advice directly after WHS and remembrance of advice three months later), and fidelity (protocol adherence). The workers scored their increase in knowledge from 0–10 with regard to health status and work ability, their satisfaction with the intervention and the perceived (future) effect of such an intervention. Program implementation was defined as the mean score of reach, fidelity, and intervention dose delivered and received.
Reach was 9% (77 workers participated), fidelity was 67%, the intervention dose delivered was 92 and 63%, and the intervention dose received was 68 and 49%. The total programme implementation was 58%. The increases in knowledge regarding the health status and work ability of the workers after the WHS were graded as 7.0 and 5.9, respectively. The satisfaction of the workers with the entire intervention was graded as 7.5. The perceived (future) effects on health status were graded as 6.3, and the effects on work ability were graded with a 5.2. The economic recession affected the workers as well as the occupational health service that enacted the implementation.
Programme implementation was acceptable. Low reach, limited protocol adherence and modest engagement of the workers with respect to the intervention were the most prominent aspects that influenced the intervention process. The increase in the workers’ knowledge about their health status and work ability was substantial, and the workers’ satisfaction with the intervention was good. The perceived effect of the advised preventive actions on health status was sufficient.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register: http://NTR3012
PMCID: PMC3599882  PMID: 23497119
6.  Musculoskeletal disorders among construction workers: a one-year follow-up study 
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are an important cause of functional impairments and disability among construction workers. An improved understanding of MSDs in different construction occupations is likely to be of value for selecting preventive measures. This study aimed to survey the prevalence of symptoms of MSDs, the work-relatedness of the symptoms and the problems experienced during work among two construction occupations: bricklayers and supervisors.
We randomly selected 750 bricklayers and 750 supervisors resident in the Netherlands in December 2009. This sample was surveyed by means of a baseline questionnaire and a follow-up questionnaire one year later. The participants were asked about complaints of the musculoskeletal system during the last six months, the perceived work-relatedness of the symptoms, the problems that occurred during work and the occupational tasks that were perceived as causes or aggravating factors of the MSD.
Baseline response rate was 37%, follow-up response was 80%. The prevalence of MSDs among 267 bricklayers and 232 supervisors was 67% and 57%, respectively. Complaints of the back, knee and shoulder/upper arm were the most prevalent among both occupations. Irrespective of the body region, most of the bricklayers and supervisors reported that their complaints were work-related. Complaints of the back and elbow were the most often reported among the bricklayers during work, whereas lower arm/wrist and upper leg complaints were the most often reported among the supervisors. In both occupations, a majority of the participants perceived several occupational physical tasks and activities as causes or aggravating factors for their MSD. Recurrent complaints at follow-up were reported by both bricklayers (47% of the complaints) and supervisors (31% of the complaints). Participants in both occupations report that mainly back and knee complaints result in additional problems during work, at the time of follow-up.
A substantial number of the bricklayers and the supervisors report musculoskeletal disorders, mainly back, knee and shoulder/upper arm complaints. The majority of the bricklayers and half of the supervisors believe that their complaints are work-related. Irrespective of occupation, participants with MSDs report substantial problems during work. Workplace intervention measures aimed at occupational physical tasks and activities seem justified for both occupations.
PMCID: PMC3489781  PMID: 23061990
Construction industry; Longitudinal study; Work-related musculoskeletal disorders
7.  A trial of a job-specific workers' health surveillance program for construction workers: study protocol 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:743.
Dutch construction workers are offered periodic health examinations. This care can be improved by tailoring this workers health surveillance (WHS) to the demands of the job and adjust the preventive actions to the specific health risks of a worker in a particular job. To improve the quality of the WHS for construction workers and stimulate relevant job-specific preventive actions by the occupational physician, we have developed a job-specific WHS. The job-specific WHS consists of modules assessing both physical and psychological requirements. The selected measurement instruments chosen, are based on their appropriateness to measure the workers' capacity and health requirements. They include a questionnaire and biometrical tests, and physical performance tests that measure physical functional capabilities. Furthermore, our job-specific WHS provides occupational physicians with a protocol to increase the worker-behavioural effectiveness of their counselling and to stimulate job-specific preventive actions. The objective of this paper is to describe and clarify our study to evaluate the behavioural effects of this job-specific WHS on workers and occupational physicians.
The ongoing study of bricklayers and supervisors is a nonrandomised trial to compare the outcome of an intervention (job-specific WHS) group (n = 206) with that of a control (WHS) group (n = 206). The study includes a three-month follow-up. The primary outcome measure is the proportion of participants who have undertaken one or more of the preventive actions advised by their occupational physician in the three months after attending the WHS. A process evaluation will be carried out to determine context, reach, dose delivered, dose received, fidelity, and satisfaction. The present study is in accordance with the TREND Statement.
This study will allow an evaluation of the behaviour of both the workers and occupational physician regarding the preventive actions undertaken by them within the scope of a job-specific WHS.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3192691  PMID: 21958019
8.  Review on the validity of self-report to assess work-related diseases 
Self-report is an efficient and accepted means of assessing population characteristics, risk factors, and diseases. Little is known on the validity of self-reported work-related illness as an indicator of the presence of a work-related disease. This study reviews the evidence on (1) the validity of workers’ self-reported illness and (2) on the validity of workers’ self-assessed work relatedness of an illness.
A systematic literature search was conducted in four databases (Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and OSH-Update). Two reviewers independently performed the article selection and data extraction. The methodological quality of the studies was evaluated, levels of agreement and predictive values were rated against predefined criteria, and sources of heterogeneity were explored.
In 32 studies, workers’ self-reports of health conditions were compared with the "reference standard" of expert opinion. We found that agreement was mainly low to moderate. Self-assessed work relatedness of a health condition was examined in only four studies, showing low-to-moderate agreement with expert assessment. The health condition, type of questionnaire, and the case definitions for both self-report and reference standards influence the results of validation studies.
Workers’ self-reported illness may provide valuable information on the presence of disease, although the generalizability of the findings is limited primarily to musculoskeletal and skin disorders. For case finding in a population at risk, e.g., an active workers’ health surveillance program, a sensitive symptom questionnaire with a follow-up by a medical examination may be the best choice. Evidence on the validity of self-assessed work relatedness of a health condition is scarce. Adding well-developed questions to a specific medical diagnosis exploring the relationship between symptoms and work may be a good strategy.
PMCID: PMC3299958  PMID: 21667280
Self-report; Work-related illness; Work-related diseases; Validation; Occupational health

Results 1-8 (8)