A step-by-step approach to better work, aimed at reducing the physical workload of glaziers, is evaluated. In three small-sized companies mechanical aids were developed with strong commitment from management. Glaziers from these three companies prioritized problems, selected solutions and tested the solutions. A steering group with representatives from the companies and the sector decided on the solutions. Based on the tests a set of solutions was presented to the sector. A year after introduction the effects were evaluated by questioning 2050 glazier companies. The approach resulted in several mechanical aids that were presented to the sector on a 'demonstration day', by a videotape sent to all glazier companies and by a brochure. The evaluation had a low response (20.1%). Out of 412 glazier companies that completed the questionnaire 88% were aware of the devices, 55% bought at least one device and 86% were satisfied with the use of the devices. It is concluded that: the participatory ergonomics approach resulted in the implementation of ergonomics solutions; perhaps with fewer efforts the same results could be achieved; more efforts should be made to increase the response percentage to evaluate the effects and the process; and more direct participation of glaziers could have improved adoption. Relevance to industry: Reduction of physical workload is often pursued in industry. In this paper an approach is evaluated that resulted in the implementation of improvements in more than half of 412 glazier companies. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.