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

Development of Tools for Evaluating the Implementation Process and Economic Analysis of an Ergonomic Intervention: The case of an interventionto prevent musculoskeletal disorders in the poultry slaughter and processing industry


Since the 1990s, Nicole Vézina and her team have been conducting research focused on the learning process involved in honing and sharpening knives, in order to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The case under study is an intervention in the evisceration department of a poultry slaughter and processing plant situated in Québec. It is an ergonomic intervention to prevent MSDs, with several types of learning transfer, in the context of fast-paced assembly-line work. The study’s general objective was to develop data collection tools adapted to the constraints of the work situation and analysis methods to increase the feasibility of evaluating this intervention. It also aimed to test these tools and enhance them for the evaluation of the intervention implementation process and an economic assessment from the employer’s perspective.

The study consisted of two complementary components. Component 1 dealt with the development of an analytical framework to assess the implementation process for the type of intervention studied. This first component used a qualitative single-case study design. Data collection was carried out using data collection tools from the ergonomic intervention and additional data collection strategies developed specifically to evaluate the process. The analysis of data was performed using the template analysis technique, which is a type of thematic analysis that integrates the evaluation dimensions set forth in the literature. Component 2 dealt with the development of data collection tools and data analysis methods to conduct the economic assessment of the intervention. To that end, indicators derived from the methodological principles of the cost-benefit analyses of the prevention interventions and the dimensions included in the analysis framework developed in component 1 of the study were used.

Component 1: An analytical framework specific to the type of intervention under study was developed. This framework included six main themes: initiation, ongoing design, implementation, contributions from the organization’s internal stakeholders, intermediate effects, and internal context. There were 15 sub-themes and 61 evaluation dimensions. The analysis of the contribution of data collection tools showed that the most effective tools for documenting the evaluation dimensions were interviews with the professionals involved and non-participatory observation during an intervention day.

Component 2: Three types of results emerged from component 2: (1) Two economic indicators specific to the intervention: the number of knives purchased per year and the number of consultations by the plant’s physiotherapist for the employees of the department targeted by the intervention; (2) Four economic data collection tools were developed and fine-tuned: the economic information register, the internal trainers’ logbook; the professionals’ logbook, and the questionnaire on pain and the condition of the knives; (3) Three data analysis methods were suggested for the costs of the intervention: effects analysis, return on investment calculations and the benefit-cost ratio.

Recommendations: First, two recommendations concern the use of data collected by the tools from the ergonomic intervention to carry out the evaluation: (1) To improve the feasibility of evaluating the implementation process in a fast-paced work context, in which employees and those responsible for the intervention in the company have very little time to devote to the evaluation, data collection tools must be designed in tandem with those from the ergonomic intervention; (2) To do this, close cooperation between ergonomists and evaluators is very useful. Next, there are two recommendations for the use of an evaluation framework that incorporates a time dimension: (1) The evaluation framework developed highlights new evaluation dimensions compared to those available in the literature. This framework could be completed by adding a time dimension, which would accentuate the sequence and course of action taken by the ergonomists; (2) To do so, it is necessary to obtain sufficiently detailed data for each day of intervention. Thus, an additional collection of data to that carried out for this report should consist in conducting self-confrontation interviews with the ergonomists at the end of each day of intervention to capture data on the activities, taking the time dimension into account. Finally, four recommendations relate to economic evaluation and integration between the two evaluation components: (1) To conduct the economic assessment of the intervention, it is essential to collect qualitative data to ensure the validity of the indicators chosen to quantitatively measure its effects and benefits (for a cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit analysis); (2) In the same perspective, a pre-test of the economic information register with the company’s key informants appears necessary to ensure that data collection (for which the accessibility is often limited) is optimized; (3) When developing data collection tools for evaluations, the difficulty in obtaining the release of employees to participate in data collection must be anticipated to properly conduct the evaluation; (4) The evaluation of the implementation process contributes to the economic assessment by identifying all the outlays and time contribution of the stakeholders, which guides the development of economic data collection tools. The evaluation of the implementation process also makes it possible to understand what is in play during implementation, the obstacles encountered, the drivers, and the gaps between the initial action plan and the activities actually implemented to interpret the economic results.


Additional Information

Category: Research Report
  • Émilie Desjardins
  • Hélène Sultan-Taïeb
  • France St-Hilaire
  • Nicole Vézina
  • Élise Ledoux
  • Patricia Bélanger
  • Rita Naji
Research Project: 2016-0045
Online since: April 28, 2020
Format: Text