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 Table of Contents 
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 4287-4291  

A study on knowledge and practice of Ergonomics among the Software Engineers in a private firm, Chennai, Tamil Nadu


1 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV). Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet Taluk, Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Kelambakkam, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission13-May-2020
Date of Decision14-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance07-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication25-Aug-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. L Fasna
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV). Deemed to be University, Tiruporur. Gudvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet Taluk, Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu -603 108
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_848_20

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  Abstract 


Background and Aims: Due to multiple reasons like prolonged sitting and postural demands, software engineers are prone to develop musculoskeletal problems, which can be easily alleviated by practicing proper Ergonomic posture in their workstation. The main objective of the study was to assess the knowledge of Ergonomics Principles and Workplace Practice among the software engineers working in a private firm. Methodology: This was a cross-sectional study conducted among 403 software engineers working in a private firm, Chennai. Results: Among the 403 study participants, 85.6% had musculoskeletal problem in any area of focus. Only 9% had adequate ergonomic knowledge and only fewer among them practice it adequately. Conclusion: The study revealed higher prevalence of musculoskeletal problem, lower prevalence of knowledge about Ergonomic principles and much lower prevalence of appropriate practice of Ergonomic principles. This can be alleviated by a simple primary care like ergonomic education and practising.

Keywords: Ergonomics, occupation, workplace, workstation


How to cite this article:
Jasmine M, Fasna L, Chellaiyan VG, Raja V P, Ravivarman G. A study on knowledge and practice of Ergonomics among the Software Engineers in a private firm, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. J Family Med Prim Care 2020;9:4287-91

How to cite this URL:
Jasmine M, Fasna L, Chellaiyan VG, Raja V P, Ravivarman G. A study on knowledge and practice of Ergonomics among the Software Engineers in a private firm, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 28];9:4287-91. Available from: http://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2020/9/8/4287/293103




  Introduction Top


Many jobs are associated with the development of musculoskeletal problem due to varied reasons. The most common job to produce these types of strains are those who uses computers every day during their work. Since the establishment of Information Technology industries in India, there has been an enormous growth in that field.[1] Due to varied reasons in their work like prolonged sitting and postural demands, the software engineers develop Musculoskeletal Problems.

In 1949, K. F. H Murrell coined the term “Ergonomics” which came to prominence in 1950.[2] Ergonomics is defined as “fitting the job to the people”.[3] The main aim of the ergonomics is to adapt the work to the person and vice versa. According to International Labour Organisation, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) has been defined as “the science of anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of hazards arising in or workplace that could impair the health and wellbeing of the workers”.[4] It is the basic right of the employees to work in a safety environment. The main ironic issue is that all these work-related musculoskeletal disorders can be easily averted by simple ergonomic interventions. Practice of Ergonomics can improve the work efficiency and thus the health of the work is not compromised. Studies have shown that by providing primary care regular medical screening and health education on practising Ergonomics can avert majority of the musculoskeletal problems experienced by the Software Engineers.

There are many studies which has shown that there was a phenomenal improvement in the symptoms of the computer users after intervening with the simple ergonomic changes in their workstation.[5],[6],[7] Only few studies concentrating on awareness and practice of ergonomics and its association with the development of musculoskeletal problem among the Software engineers are done in Chennai. So, the aim of the present study was toassess the knowledge and practice of Ergonomic principles among the Software Engineers working in a private firm, Chennai.


  Objectives Top


The main objective of the study was to assess the knowledge of Ergonomics Principles and Workplace Practice among the Software Engineers working in a private firm.


  Methods Top


Study design and setting

This study was a cross-sectional study conducted in a private Information Technology firm in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Study population

The study was conducted among software engineers working in a private firm, Chennai.

Inclusion criteria

  1. Software engineers who have an experience of more than 2 years in the same company
  2. Software engineers with the age less than 40 years and both gender.


Exclusion criteria

  1. Software engineers who had a past history of spine surgery or diseases in Spine like disc prolapse, discitis, arthritisetc.
  2. Orthopedically physically challenged
  3. Pregnant women.


Sample size calculation

With the prevalence of 64.5%[8] and allowable error of 5%, the sample size was calculated as 366. To account for the non-response rate, 10% of the sample is added to arrive at the final sample of 403.

Sampling method

The sampling method used was Simple Random Sampling.

Study instrument

A standardised pre-tested semi structured questionnaire was used.

Section 1

This section includes the details of the participants like age, gender, years of experience and the duration of computer usage.

Section 2

This section includes the details of prevalence of musculoskeletal problem.

Section 3

This section had questions to analyse the awareness/knowledge of computer workstation ergonomics based on the guidelines given by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).[9] This section tests the awareness of the participants about certain important ergonomic features like the features of the ergonomic chair, position of the head and neck, foot, arm rest, hips and knees. This section also had questions about the position of the key board, mouse, work space arrangement, height of the monitor.

Section 4

This section had questions about the practice of the ergonomics and the practice of stretching exercise in between. The participants were asked about the practice of each position.

Data collection

Software engineers who were selected, were explained about the study and its purpose. All participants, after obtaining informed consent, were interviewed with the semi structured questionnaire. Collected information was kept confidential.

Statistical analysis

Data collected was then entered in the Microsoft excel sheet (MS excel 2010). The normality of the data was checked. Data was coded and analysed in Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.0 software (institutional licensed). Descriptive analysis for all the variables was expressed in frequency and proportions. Age was expressed in median. For bivariate and multivariate analysis, Chi square test was done. P value of less than 0.05 was considered significant.

Ethical consideration

Approval from Institutional ethical committee was obtained (IHEC No: 65/IHEC/9-16). Permission was also obtained from the private software firm in Chennai. All the selected participants were informed about the purpose, procedure and confidentiality of the study in the language they understand. Written informed consent was obtained from the study participants. Confidentiality was maintained throughout the study.


  Results Top


The median age of the study participants were 26 years with 61.5% males. 47.1% had work experience between less than 4 years and almost all the study participants (96%) had more than 5 hours of computer usage in a day [Table 1].
Table 1: Profile of Study Participants (n=403)

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Among the 403 study participants, 85.6% had musculoskeletal problem in any area of focus [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution of study participants according to the prevalence of any musculoskeletal problems in the past 1 year (n=403)

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In knowledge section [Table 3], each correct answer was given 1, and wrong answer was given 0. Out of 12 knowledge questions, those who have score more than 75% was considered as adequate knowledge. Out of the 403 participants, only 9% had adequate ergonomic knowledge.
Table 3: Distribution of study participants according to the knowledge about Ergonomic Principles (n=403)

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Among those who had musculoskeletal pain (345), only 8.1% had adequate knowledge and 91.9% had inadequate knowledge about the ergonomic principles of computer workstation.

Among those who have adequate knowledge, those who practice that always and most of the time was considered as having appropriate practice [Table 4].
Table 4: Distribution of study participants according to appropriate practice of Ergonomic principles

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It was found that the prevalence of musculoskeletal problem was higher among those who didn't follow the proper relevant ergonomic principle [Table 5].
Table 5: Distribution of musculoskeletal problems in the specific area according to practice of respective Ergonomic principles

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  Discussion Top


Occupation related health problem is increasing alarmingly in India. Software Engineers being a major workforce in India are subjected to tremendous amount of occupation related injury which can be easily averted. The present study was conducted in a private IT firm (Chennai, Tamil Nadu), among 403 software professionals. The present study showed a prevalence of 85.6% musculoskeletal problem in the previous one year. Slightly similar report has been obtained by the study done by Sharma AK et al.[10] and Talwar R et al.[11]

On assessing the knowledge about arm rest only 49.9% of the study participants were aware about them. In a study done by Khan R et al.,[12] the knowledge about the arm rest was present only for 24%. The higher prevalence could be attributed to the fact that in the study lead by Khan R et al.,[12] the study participants were computer users in the workplace and not specifically Software Engineers (homogenous group). In the present study more than 50% prevalence was present for the knowledge about ergonomic principles of keyboard, mouse, monitor height and stretching in between the work. Similar report was shown in the study done by Khan R et al.[12] Assessing the individual's knowledge about ergonomics is very crucial for the computer users, as this is a very cost-effective method to alleviate the musculoskeletal problems.

Among those who had adequate knowledge about the ergonomics, not everyone practiced that correctly in the present study. For instance, the present study showed that out of those who had adequate knowledge about arm rest (201), only 107 practiced that correctly and amongst the 60 who had adequate knowledge about the height adjustment of the chair, only 24 had correct practice. This corresponds with the Khan R et al.[12] study which stated that the practice of arm rest or chair height adjustment was not substantial when compared with the knowledge. The present study showed that among those who had inappropriate practice of foot position, 23.5% and 17.4% developed the musculoskeletal symptoms in foot and ankle respectively. In a study steered by Kausalya R et al.,[8] it was found that among those 82, who had inappropriate position of legs, 54 (65.9%) developed the symptoms, Similar finding was also found in another study lead by Suparna K et al.,[13] which showed a prevalence of 69.8% among those who did not have an appropriate practice. A study done by Sasikumar V [14] and Kashif M et al.[15] confirms the present study finding stating that postural factor among the software engineers is significantly correlated with the prevalence of musculoskeletal problem.

To summarize, the study revealed higher prevalence of musculoskeletal problem, lower prevalence of knowledge about Ergonomic principles and much lower prevalence of appropriate practice of Ergonomic principles. On observing the association between the appropriate practice and the musculoskeletal problem, the study revealed that the musculoskeletal problem was higher among those who had inappropriate Ergonomic practices.

Conclusion and Limitations

The musculoskeletal problems can decrease the efficiency of the software engineers, thereby decreasing productivity. The employees should be motivated to practice the attained knowledge of Ergonomic principles. Constant monitoring and evaluation of the employees' health is very crucial to alleviate these problems at the root level. The main limitation is the evaluation of practice of ergonomics by the questionnaire. Evaluation of the Practice of Ergonomics principles, if done by observation, could yield a better picture of their practices than by asking through the questionnaire.


  Recommendation Top


Ironically the root cause for such work- related musculoskeletal problem can be easily averted through simple primary care such as ergonomic education and training at the start of the career. The higher prevalence of the musculoskeletal symptoms makes it imperative for the organisation to impart knowledge about Ergonomics. Continued learning is the key to bring about a change in the affective domain. To impart the knowledge, the concerned organisations/Employers should have a regular training session for the employees. The employees should be educated about the coping strategies for preventing these type of health hazards.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Easy Ergonomics for Desktop Computer Users [Internet]. Dir.ca.gov. 2018 [cited 2018 Oct 14]. Available from: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/computerergo.pdf.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
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Khan R, Surti A, Rehman R, Ali U. Knowledge and practices of ergonomics in computer users. J Pakistan Med Assoc 2012;62:213.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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Suparna K, Sharma AK, Khandekar J. Occupational health problems and role of ergonomics in information technology professionals in national capital region. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2005;9:111.  Back to cited text no. 13
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Sasikumar V, Binoosh SC. A model for predicting the risk of musculoskeletal disorders among computer professionals. Int J Occup Saf Ergon 2020;26:384-96.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
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Kashif M, Anwar M, Noor H, Iram H, Hassan HM. Prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints of arm, neck and shoulder and associated risk factors in computer office workers. Physikalische Medizin, Rehabilitationsmedizin, Kurortmedizin 2020;23. doi: 10.1055/a-1126-4515.  Back to cited text no. 15
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]



 

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