IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Overview of Primary and Secondary Prevention Practices Used by Practitioners and Workplaces in Connection with Computer Use in Québec


Nearly 70% of workers use a computer, and close to 20% of them spend more than 31 hours a week at the computer. Numerous studies have shown a link between computer use and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), especially in women. Knowledge about workstation ergonomics and choice of equipment has already been developed. It is known that work should be varied and breaks should be taken; the literature also contains indications as to organizational best practices in this regard. Preventing MSDs related to computer use is now possible, although new studies are still needed.

The purpose of this study is to describe the practices used by OHS practitioners to prevent problems caused by computer use, as well as the practices of companies that are using computers. Researchers will draw a picture of the work methods used in Québec, with the aim of possibly developing a good practices guide adapted to the Québec workplace.

The activity will be conducted in collaboration with a monitoring committee made up of seven organizations: four joint sector-based associations, an employer association, the CSST and a union association. Several people from the participating organizations will be interviewed, along with five practitioners and three company ergonomists. Twenty-two in-depth interviews will be conducted, using an interview grid describing the action requests, the steps taken by the practitioners, the results obtained and general information about the practice. Some 20 companies will be visited. The context of each company, the characteristics of its workforce and the type of computer use will be described. Key persons will also be met with: managers, employer and union representatives, OHS and purchasing officers, and IT department heads. Primary and secondary prevention actions will be documented, along with the needs expressed and the difficulties encountered.

A deeper knowledge of practices used in Québec to prevent problems related to computer use will help researchers determine which approaches are the most promising and which ones do not work. It will also enable them to describe the needs, the difficulties encountered and the feasibility of the various approaches, and to identify the main deficiencies in current practices.