Participatory Ergonomics

Participatory Ergonomics (PE) is an approach that has been designed for overcoming the challenges to ergonomic intervention to deal with work-related musculo-skeletal disorders (WSMD) in small and medium-sized firms, especially those in remote and rural locations. PE harnesses employee (worker and management) knowledge of organizational, physical, social, and psychological factors associated with injury by promoting their engagement in the design and implementation of ergonomic interventions.

SafetyNet designed a toolkit to help workplaces implement PE interventions that use an Ergo-Team approach. The toolkit was developed through work by SafetyNet researchers and graduate students in 5 plants in NL and in Montreal over the period 2008-2011. The toolkit, A Team Approach: How to Implement an Ergo-Team Approach to Participatory Ergonomics includes a promotional video, a written guide, and a training workbook for Ergo-Team members.

Contact the SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health & Safety Research if you would like more information.

The “Ergo-Team” approach outlined in the Participatory Ergonomics Toolkit is the result of a review of the literature and experience developed at the Centre de Recherche sur les Interactions Biologique entre la Sante et l’Environnement (CINBIOSE), l’Université de Quebéc à Montréal. The approach was pilot-tested with workers and management in the Beothic Fish Processors processing plant in New-Wes-Valley, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The draft approach developed at Beothic was reviewed at a workshop composed of experts in participatory ergonomics in Boston in August 2007. The approach was then adapted for transfer to a second, smaller seafood processing plant in rural Newfoundland, Canada. After further developing the approach within a rural and remote context it was adapted for use within two urban food processing plants: 1) a poultry processing facility in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, and 2) a snack bar processing facility in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

List of Project Outputs


Scott MacKinnon, Human Kinetics & Recreation, Memorial University
John Molgaard, Engineering, Memorial University
Barbara Neis, SafetyNet, Memorial University
Nicole Vézina, Département de Kinanthropologie, UQÁM

Research Assistant

Margaret Ann McCarthy, SafetyNet, Memorial University


Christie Boone, MSc (HKR) student
David Antle, MSc (HKR) student and Ph.D. student (McGill)

Funding Sources

Knowledge to Action (KTA) Grant, Canadian Institutes for Health Research
Café Scientifique Grant, Canadian Institutes for Health Research
Memorial University
Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador (WHSCC-NL)
Country Ribbon Inc.
Department of Education and Learning Technologies (DELT), Memorial University
Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW/CAW).

Substantial in-kind contributions, collaboration, and support was also provided by employers, ergo-teams, and other employees in workplaces participating in this project.



Antle, D. M., MacKinnon, S.N., Molgaard, J., Vézina, N., Parent, R., Bornstein, S. & Leclerc, L. (2011). Understanding knowledge transfer in an ergonomics intervention at a poultry processing plant. Work - A Journal of Prevention Assessment & Rehabilitation, 38(4), 347-357.

Completed Theses

Boone, C. (2013). Evaluation of management practices as a result of an implementation of a participatory ergonomics program in a poultry processing plant. Masters Dissertation, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation. Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Antle, D.M. (2008). A participatory ergonomics approach to knowledge transfer in an industrial setting. Masters Dissertation, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation. Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Antle, D. M. (2013). Using ‘Participatory Ergonomics’ approaches to develop applied workplace research and effective workplace interventions. Invited keynote session at the Health & Safety Conference Society of Alberta (HSCSA) Annual Conference. BMO Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada, October 21st-22nd.

Antle, D., Neis, B., Miller, L., & Vézina, N. (2013). A team approach: A review of a comprehensive tool kit for “Participatory Ergonomic” interventions. Presentation to the 16th Annual Applied Ergonomics Conference. Dallas, TX, March 18-21.

Antle, D. M., Bush, P .L., Vézina, N., Garcia Bengoechea, E. (2011). What can participatory-action research in health-based fields and participatory ergonomics learn from each other? Presentation to "Ergonomics and Performance: Health, Safety and Beyond", the 42nd Annual Conference of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists (ACE). October 18-20.

Antle, D. M. (2011). Community-based participatory-action research and participatory ergonomics: A review of knowledge exchange opportunities between two fields of participatory research. Presentation to the Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur la Biologie, la Santé, la Société et l’Environnement (CINBIOSE) Annual Conference. L’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Montréal, QC, Canada, April 4-5.

Boone, C., & MacKinnon, S. N. (2010). The evaluation of management practices as a result of an implementation of a participatory ergonomics program in a poultry processing plant. Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society. San Francisco, USA, September.

Antle D. M., McCarthy, M. A., Vezina, N., Molgaard, J., MacKinnon, S. N., & Neis, B. (2009). A case study on the adaptation of a ‘train-the-trainer’ program for butchery operations to rural and remote seafood processing facilities. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists – ‘Ergonomics – Think it. Live it.’

MacKinnon, S., Antle, D., & Vezina, N. (2009). The importance of preparing management for participation in a participatory ergonomics program. Paper presented at the 17th World Congress on Ergonomics. Beijing, China.

MacKinnon, S. N., Antle, D., Molgaard, J., Parent, R., LeClerc, L., Bornstein, S., & Vézina, N. (2008). Internal workplace communication in the participatory ergonomics process. Presentation to the 9th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management. São Paulo, Brazil, March 19-21.

Antle, D. M., MacKinnon, S. N., Molgaard, J., Parent, R., Desmarais, L., Leclerc, L., Vézina, N., & Bornstein, S. (2007). A participatory ergonomics approach to knowledge transfer in an industrial setting: Case study of a poultry processing plant. Presentation to the 6th International Scientific Conference on Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders - PREMUS 2007. Boston, USA, August 27-30.

MacKinnon, S. N., Matthews, J. D., Antle, D. M., & Massey, E. E. (2007). Setting-related opportunities and challenges of participatory ergonomic interventions. Panel discussion at The Atlantic Networks for Prevention Research: Assessment and Action for Healthy Settings. St. John’s, NL, July 4-6.

Knowledge Mobilization

Café Scientifique Meetings: How to implement a team approach to Participatory Ergonomics

St. John’s, NL - September 20, 2012
David Antle (Ergonomist, EWI Works International, PhD Candidate, McGill University), D. Darren MacDonald (Ergonomist, Tektol Consulting, Sydney, NS), Moderator: Linda Sagmeister (Ergonomist, Service NL, OHS Branch, Government of NL)

Edmonton, AB - April 3, 2013
David Antle, (Ergonomist, EWI Works International, PhD Candidate, McGill University), Deborah Goodwin (Alberta Health Services), Linda Miller (EWI Works International), Barbara Neis (Memorial University), Erin Walhom (Association of Canadian Ergonomists), Moderator: Christie Boone (OHS Consultant, City Of Edmonton)