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Ergonomics is the physical and behavioral relationship between people and their environment. When the environment does not relate well to an individual’s capacity to perform a particular function, injury and illness can result.
SU is establishing an ergonomics program to reduce the potential of its employees to experience the pain and discomfort associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are often caused by poor ergonomic workplace design and practice.
The Environmental Health & Safety Coordinator will evaluate jobs for physical risk factors and make recommendations to the employee and their supervisor for reducing or eliminating those risk factors. Ergonomic assessments will be performed as requested and strategically to areas as funding and needs are identified.
It is expected that the employee and supervisor will carry out the recommendations to reduce the risk of injury.
SU will work to reduce ergonomic hazards by replacing equipment needed to reduce these risks.
Departmental funding will be used for equipment purchases. Supervisors are expected to maintain and improve the level of ergonomic performance gained from new equipment. They can do so by encouraging proper use of equipment and replacing expired equipment with equipment that meets ergonomic goals. The Environmental Health & Safety Coordinator can help select appropriate equipment.
Corrective measures must always emphasize controls that do not rely on employee behavior to reduce risks. These include:
When the implementation of these controls cannot reduce ergonomic hazards below the risk levels, they must be supplemented with controls that rely primarily on employee behavior or personal protective equipment.
SU will offer ergonomics awareness education for all employees. Ergonomic awareness education includes:
The Environmental Health and Safety Office and/or Facilities Support Services will identify potential vendors to provide ergonomic furniture options to assist employees in selecting furniture for their offices that meet the objectives of this program. The Environmental Health & Safety Coordinator will be consulted for furniture, process equipment, and other large equipment purchases to ensure that we do not create any ergonomic risk factors.
It is the responsibility of each department and supervisor, when investing in new equipment, to do so with equipment that reduces ergonomic hazards to the highest degree technologically and economically feasible. Please consult Facilities Support Services
The following are contributing factors for ergonomic injuries. Please try to limit or avoid activities with these risk factors.
It is helpful to interrupt continuous work with periodic rest breaks or other work activities. The following are additional corrective measures.
To prevent neck and back strain, keep your spine and head upright, and sit well back into your chair. Placing your feet on a surface rather than allowing them to dangle helps take the strain off your legs and back.
Shoulder muscles can become tense when arms and hands are held too high. Hold arms comfortably at your side, with your elbow at about a right angle. Wrists should be in line with the forearm; wrist problems, such as carpel tunnel, can develop when wrists are bent at extreme angles.
These can prove useful in reducing or relieving physical stresses that result from having the arm suspended for a length of time in a static position.
To lessen the strain on eye muscles, keep your monitor screen at least 18 to 28 inches from your eyes. Take vision breaks, look at an object at least 20 feet away from time to time.
Position your head and neck with the top of the screen at about eye level and perpendicular to the viewing direction.
To lessen shoulder tension the keyboard should be low enough so that the arms hang freely, the shoulders are not lifted, and elbows are bent at right angles.
For support of the lower back a properly designed chair is necessary. Height should be adjusted to permit correct placement of the head and hands of the operator as indicated elsewhere in this section. Knees should be at about the same level as your hips. There should be about three finger widths between the back of your knee and the front edge of the chair.
Exercise will help relax tight muscles, reduce stress and lessen general fatigue. Stretching, moving of hands, fingers, arms and wrists in a variety of other positions and gentle rubbing of hand and arm muscles are helpful in relieving strain.
Position work to prevent slouching in your neck. Try placing your work materials on a document holder, so you do not have to lean over your desk.
Seattle University is committed to helping reduce back injuries at work by emphasizing good lifting techniques, but basic safety is a shared responsibility—it requires your constant awareness of these techniques whenever you lift, both on and off the job.
The following principles are provided to promote proper lifting techniques:
Back injuries are painful for the worker and one of the leading causes of workers compensation claims. And they are almost always avoidable. Lift safely!