ANALYSIS OF DIFFERENT PREVENTIVE MEASURES TO IMPROVE HOME OFFICE ERGONOMICS – RESULTS FROM A STUDY ON THE FIRST WAVE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN LATVIA
Keywords:telework, distance work, working at home, COVID-19, musculoskeletal pain, ergonomics
Introduction: Telework, also known as remote work, distance work, telecommuting, was gaining popularity already before the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite benefits, telework can also cause workers' mental and physical health, and forced telework during the COVID-19 pandemic has promoted the onset of these problems.
Objectives: The objective of the study was to analyze the management of ergonomics in teleworking workplaces and the association between pain longer than three days and preventive measures provided by employers in Latvia during the 1st emergency restrictions, which were in force between 12 March and 9 June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: Web-survey was used to gather information from respondents – workers. In total, 1006 workers fully filled in the questionnaire in October 2020. Four hundred eighty-three teleworkers of both genders were identified.
Results: 35.7% of respondents reported pain longer than three days. The odds of pain were increased in case of lack of all analyzed preventive measures. For those who reported not being provided with a computer and other IT equipment OR for pain was 1.50 (CI 0.95-2.37). Even higher OR was observed in case of not receiving advice on how to arrange an ergonomic workstation (OR= 2.37, CI 1.32-4.25) and not having identified working conditions (OR= 2.61, CI 1.43-4.77). The highest risk was observed if the employer had not provided an office table and office chair (OR=5.46, CI 1.78-16.80).
Conclusion: Teleworkers not receiving support from the employer on the arrangement of home offices have an increased risk of having pain for longer than three days. Provision of an office worktable, an office chair, advice on how to arrange an ergonomic workplace and provision of workplace risk assessment are key measures to be taken by the employer to improve home office ergonomics of their workers.
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