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Diversity of tasks and information technologies used by office workers at and away from work

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Background. Computer use is associated with musculoskeletal complaints among office workers. Insufficient exposure diversity between tasks is a proposed etiological factor, but little information exists on diversity of tasks and information and communication technologies (ICT) among office workers. Method. Direct observation and self-report data were collected on tasks performed and ICT used among 24 office workers, over 12 h in work and non-work environments. Self-reports were repeated on four additional days. Results. Observations were for a mean [SD] 642[40] min. Productive tasks comprised 63% of observations, instrumental 17%, self-care 12% and leisure 8%. Non-ICT tasks comprised 44% of observations; New electronic-based ICT 36%; Old paper-based ICT 15%, and Combined ICT tasks 4%. Proportions of tasks and ICT use differed between environments and days. Conclusion. Information about diversity in tasks and ICT provides the basis for future investigations into exposure variation in ICT-intensive environments and possible musculoskeletal health risks.

Statement of relevance: Information and communication technologies (ICT) provide office workers access to perform work-related tasks after work hours and in away-from-work locations. Musculoskeletal disorder risk assessment for office workers should account for actual tasks performed over a work day, including away from work exposures. This study provides rich, detailed data on occurrence of tasks performed and ICT used by office workers throughout the day.
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Keywords: ICT; direct observation; office workers; tasks

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Australia 2: School of Physiotherapy, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Australia 3: Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences,Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Gävle, Sweden 4: Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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