PEROSH paper about guidelines for measuring sedentary work wins prestigious award

Vera Schellewald (IFA, Germany), member of project group,  receives award from Timo Bazuin, Elsevier

Long-term sedentary work may be harmful to health. But how is it possible to measure sedentary work consistently and correctly to prevent health injuries? A group of researchers from several European Work Environment, Safety and Health institutes under PEROSH have developed a guideline for handling this issue. Their findings were published in a paper which recently won the publisher Elsevier Ltd’s best paper award 2017 in the scientific journal Applied Ergonomics.

The Award has been presented during the CIEHF Award’s Ceremony at the Ergonomics and Human Factors Conference on Monday, 23rd of April, 2018.

Do you perform sedentary work most of your working day, and do you rarely take a break from your sedentary work? If yes, you are not alone! More and more employees perform sedentary work for longer periods of time which may have harmful health effects. Too much sedentary work may lead to overweight, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, particularly if it is also combined with sedentary leisure.

Despite the increasing interest in health effects from highly sedentary work, the correlation between sedentary work and health injury still remains rather vague. The vague correlation is among other things due to inadequate and different methods of how to measure sedentary work among employees.

To overcome health problems, it is thus necessary to establish common guidelines for measuring sedentary work for practitioners and researchers to obtain precise information which makes it possible to compare data across industries and countries and follow development over time for optimizing preventive measures.

This has been determined by a group of researchers from the European researcher network PEROSH in a newly published scientific paper where the purpose was to prepare a common guideline for practitioners and researchers with respect to how to measure sedentary work consistently and correctly.

It is exactly this paper which the scientific editorial office at the publisher Elsevier Ltd has appointed the winner of the prestigious award for best paper in the scientific journal Applied Ergonomics 2017.

By winning the award, the paper will generate extra attention which probably means that more practitioners and researchers will use the guidelines in the future. Common guidelines for measurement of sedentary work are crucial for ongoing research and prevention:

“To better prevent health problems arising from sedentary work, requires precise measurements of how much employees perform sedentary work during a workday. It also requires that practitioners and researchers in different countries measure in the same way so that it will be possible to compare results and build more knowledge. For instance, we still do not know precisely when sedentary work becomes harmful, most likely because researchers use very different measurement methods”, says Professor Andreas Holtermann from NFA, Denmark.

In the paper, the researchers describe which important questions practitioners or researchers should ask themselves to make the right decisions about which type of equipment should be used and what data should be collected when studying sedentary work.

Until now, we have used the employees’ own information about sedentary work, i.e. self-reported data, but these data are often inaccurate, as the information gathered is influenced by many different conditions. It is thus important that we establish common guidelines or recommendations within the European countries with respect to how researchers and practitioners should measure sedentary work correctly and in the same way.

Holtermann A, Schellewald V, Mathiassen SE, Gupta N, Pinder A, Punakallio A, Veiersted KB, Weber B, Takala E-P, Draicchio F, Enquist H, Desbrosses K, Sanz MPG, Malińska M, Villar M, Wichtl M, Strebl M, Forsman M, Lusa S, Tokarski T, Hendriksen P and Ellegast R. A practical guidance for assessments of sedentary behavior at work: A PEROSH initiative”. Applied Ergonomics Volume 63, September 2017, Pages 41-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2017.03.012