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01.12.2015 | Study protocol | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Participatory intervention with objectively measured physical risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in the construction industry: study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Mikkel Brandt, Pascal Madeleine, Jeppe Zielinski Nguyen Ajslev, Markus D. Jakobsen, Afshin Samani, Emil Sundstrup, Pete Kines, Lars L. Andersen
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors´ contributions

LLA had the original idea for the study. LLA, PM and MB and conceived the study design. LLA, MB and PM obtained the funding. AS, PM, MDJ, ESU and MB will be responsible for developing the technical measurement and analyzing the signals. LLA, JZNA and MB will be responsible for designing the questionnaires. LLA, JZNA, PK and MB will develop the program for the workshops. MB wrote the draft of the manuscript before all authors read, critically reviewed and approved the final version.



There is high prevalence of back pain and neck-shoulder pain among blue collar workers in Denmark. Excessive physical exposures such as heavy lifting or working with bended or twisted back are risk factors for back pain among workers in the construction industry. Technical evaluation of awkward postures and kinematics of upper/ lower extremities (accelerometry) during work combined with the level of muscular activity (EMG) and video recordings can improve quantification of physical exposure and thereby can facilitate designing preventive strategies. Participatory ergonomics potentially increase the success of interventions aimed at reducing excessive physical exposures. The objectives of this study are to; 1) determine which work-tasks in selected job-groups involve excessive physical load of the back and shoulders during a normal working day (measured with accelerometers, EMG and video recordings). And 2) investigate whether a participatory intervention can reduce the excessive physical workloads, drawing on measurements from phase 1.


A two-armed parallel-group, single-blind, cluster randomized controlled trial with allocation concealment will be conducted in the Danish construction industry. Approximately 20 construction gangs (≈80 subjects) will be recruited and randomized at the cluster level (gang). We will record in situ physical workload using technical measurements (EMG, accelerometers and video recordings) during a working day before and after the intervention. Based on these measurements a physical load matrix for each worker will be developed.
The participatory intervention consist of three workshops: 1) One at baseline, involving presentation of video clips of the work-tasks with excessive physical load customized for each gang, followed by a participatory development of solutions on how to reduce excessive workloads, leading to development of an action plan on how to implement these solutions at the workplace. 2) A second workshop where the implemented solutions will be further developed and qualitatively evaluated during group discussions. 3) A final workshop at follow-up to enhance long-time organizational sustainability of the implemented solutions.


The results will provide knowledge about the level of physical exposure of the back and shoulders during specific work tasks in the construction industry, and will provide information on options to implement participatory interventions aiming at reducing excessive physical workload.

Trial registration (NCT02498197), registered 29 June 2015.
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