Ergonomics: The Study of Work

U .S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSHA 3125
2000 ( Revised)
Contents
What is ergonomics? ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 1
Who needs to read this booklet? --------------------------------------------------------- 1
Why is ergonomics important? ----------------------------------------------------------- 1
What are MSDs? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2
What causes work-related MSDs? -------------------------------------------------------- 2
Can non-work-related factors cause MSDs? -------------------------------------------- 3
What types of work are most likely to pose ergonomic hazards? -------------------- 3
How do I know if I have an MSD? ------------------------------------------------------- 3
What parts of the body are most affected by MSDs? ---------------------------------- 3
How much does it cost to prevent MSDs? ---------------------------------------------- 4
How can ergonomics help my workplace? ---------------------------------------------- 5
What can I do to detect and prevent ergonomic hazards at my workplace? ------- 5
What is job hazard analysis? -------------------------------------------------------------- 7
How do I control ergonomic risk factors? ----------------------------------------------- 7
What comprises MSD management? ---------------------------------------------------- 8
What type of training and education program do I need? ---------------------------- 9
How do I begin an ergonomics program at my workplace? --------------------------- 9
How can I find out more about ergonomics? ----------------------------------------- 10
Glossary ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 11
Ergonomics: The Study of Work iii iii iii iii iii
+ ++ ++
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics can be defined simply as the
study of work. More specifically, ergonomics
is the science of designing the job to fit the
worker, rather than physically forcing the
worker’s body to fit the job.
Adapting tasks, work stations, tools, and
equipment to fit the worker can help reduce
physical stress on a worker’s body and elimi-
nate many potentially serious, disabling work-
related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Ergonomics draws on a number of
scientific disciplines, including physiology,
biomechanics, psychology, anthropometry,
industrial hygiene, and kinesiology.
Who needs to read this booklet?
You need to know about ergonomics if you
are an employer or an employee in the manu-
facturing, construction, maritime, and agricul-
tural industries and you or your employees’
work activities and job conditions include:
•Repeating the same motion throughout your
workday,
•Working in awkward or stationary positions,
•Lifting heavy or awkward items,
•Using excessive force to perform tasks, and
•Being exposed to excessive vibration or
•Extreme temperatures.
Why is ergonomics important?
Industries increasingly require higher pro-
duction rates and advances in technology to
remain competitive and stay in business. As a
result, jobs today can involve:
•Frequent lifting, carrying, and pushing or
pulling loads without help from other work-
ers or devices;
•Increasing specialization that requires the
worker to perform only one function or
movement for a long period of time or day
after day;
•Working more than 8 hours a day;
•Working at a quicker pace of work, such as
faster assembly line speeds; and
•Having tighter grips when using tools.
These factors—especially if coupled with
poor machine design, tool, and workplace
design or the use of improper tools—create
physical stress on workers’ bodies, which can
lead to injury.
A dramatic increase in MSDs began in the
1970s when these disorders increasingly ap-
peared on companies’ injury and illness logs.
OSHA cited companies for hazardous work-
place conditions that caused problems such
as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and
back injuries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency
of the U.S. Department of Labor, recognizes
MSDs as a serious workplace health hazard.
These injuries now account for more than one-
third of all lost—workday case.
1
Use tools that are right for
the job.
Get a Grip!
Problem: Pharmaceutical technicians
hand-tighten dozens of vaccine jug lids
daily. If not adequately tightened, the
jugs could leak and spoil products worth
thousands of dollars. Testing revealed,
however, that most operators are poor
judges of cap torque—resulting in signifi-
cant unwarranted hand and wrist stress.
Operators also were marginally capable
of using the proper torque required to
tighten caps adequately.
Solution: The company purchased a dial
torque wrench, made a special cap torque
attachment, and trained the technicians
to use the new equipment.
Cost: About $8 per worker.
1
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, News Release,
“Lost-worktime Injuries and Illnesses; Characteristics and Result-
ing Time Away from Work, 1998,” April 20, 2000. Online at
www.bls.gov.
Ergonomìcs: The Study oí vork ± ±± ±±
If work tasks and equipment do not in-
clude ergonomic principles in their design,
workers may have exposure to undue physi-
cal stress, strain, and overexertion, including
vibration, awkward postures, forceful exer-
tions, repetitive motion, and heavy lifting.
Recognizing ergonomic risk factors in the
workplace is an essential first step in correct-
ing hazards and improving worker protection.
Ergonomists, industrial engineers, occupa-
tional safety and health professionals, and
other trained individuals believe that reduc-
ing physical stress in the workplace could
eliminate up to half of the serious injuries each
year. Employers can learn to anticipate what
might go wrong and alter tools and the work
environment to make tasks safer for their
workers.
What are MSDs?
MSDs, or musculoskeletal disorders, are
injuries and disorders of the soft tissues
(muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and car-
tilage) and nervous system. They can affect
nearly all tissues, including the nerves and
tendon sheaths, and most frequently involve
the arms and back.
Occupational safety and health profession-
als have called these disorders a variety of
names, including cumulative trauma disor-
ders, repeated trauma, repetitive stress inju-
ries, and occupational overexertion syndrome.
These painful and often disabling injuries
generally develop gradually over weeks,
months, and years. MSDs usually result from
exposure to multiple risk factors that can cause
or exacerbate the disorders, not from a single
event or trauma such as a fall, collision, or en-
tanglement.
MSDs can cause a number of conditions,
including pain, numbness, tingling, stiff joints,
difficulty moving, muscle loss, and sometimes
paralysis. Frequently, workers must lose time
from work to recover; some never regain full
health.
These disorders include carpal tunnel syn-
drome, tendinitis, sciatica, herniated discs,
and low back pain. MSDs do not include in-
juries resulting from slips, trips, falls, or simi-
lar accidents.
What causes work-related MSDs?
Work-related MSDs occur when the physi-
cal capabilities of the worker do not match the
physical requirements of the job. Prolonged
exposure to ergonomic risk factors can cause
damage a worker’s body and lead to MSDs.
Conditions that are likely to cause MSD prob-
lems include the following:
•Exerting excessive force;
•Excessive repetition of movements that can
irritate tendons and increase pressure on
nerves;
•Awkward postures, or unsupported posi-
tions that stretch physical limits, can com-
press nerves and irritate tendons;
•Static postures, or positions that a worker
must hold for long periods of time, can re-
strict blood flow and damage muscles;
•Motion, such as increased speed or accelera-
tion when bending and twisting, can in-
crease the amount of force exerted on the
body;
•Compression, from grasping sharp edges
like tool handles, can concentrate force on
small areas of the body, reduce blood flow
and nerve transmission, and damage ten-
dons and tendon sheaths;
•Inadequate recovery time due to overtime,
lack of breaks, and failure to vary tasks
can leave insufficient time for tissue repair;
Parts of the Body Affected by MSDs
• Arms • Back
• Hands • Wrists
• Fingers • Legs
• Neck • Shoulders
+ ++ ++
•Excessive vibration, usually from vibrating
tools, can decrease blood flow, damage
nerves, and contribute to muscle fatigue.
•Whole-body vibration, from driving trucks
or operating subways, can affect skeletal
muscles and cause low-back pain; and
•Working in cold temperatures can adversely
affect a worker’s coordination and manual
dexterity and cause a worker to use more
force than necessary to perform a task.
These risk factors, either alone or in com-
bination, can subject workers’ shoulders,
arms, hands, wrists, backs, and legs to thou-
sands of repetitive twisting, forceful, or flex-
ing motions during a typical workday. To
contribute to MSDs, however, these risk fac-
tors must be present for a sufficient duration,
frequency, or magnitude.
Can non-work-related factors cause
MSDs?
Yes. Risk factors not related to your job can
cause or contribute to MSDs. These factors
include:
•Physical conditioning;
•Medical conditions, such as obesity, diabe-
tes, and arthritis;
•Pregnancy;
•Hobbies that are hand intensive or require
manual handling. In these instances, how-
ever, because one can control the duration
and exposures, hobbies usually are not pri-
mary risk factors; and
•Psychological or social workplace stress.
What types of work are most likely
to pose ergonomic hazards?
MSDs affect workers in almost every oc-
cupation and industry in the nation and in
workplaces of all sizes. The disorders occur
most frequently in jobs that involve:
•Manual handling,
•Manufacturing and production,
•Heavy lifting,
•Twisting movements, and
•Long hours of working in awkward
positions.
How do I know if I have an MSD?
You could have a work-related MSD if you
experience any of the following:
•Numbness in your fingers,
•Numbness in your thighs,
•Difficulty moving your finger,
•Stiff joints, or
•Back pain.
What parts of the body are most
affected by MSDs?
MSDs can affect nearly all tissues in the
human body: the nerves, tendons, tendon
sheaths, and muscles. The most frequently
affected areas of the body are the arms and
the back.
MSD Risk Factors
• Force
• Repetition
• Awkward postures
• Static postures
• Quick motions
• Compression or contact stress
• Vibration
• Cold temperatures
When lifting, maintain
an upright position and
avoid bending and
twisting. Avoid lifting
while sitting.
Ergonomìcs: The Study oí vork = == ==
Tendon disorders such as tendinitis, teno-
synovitis, De Quervain’s disease, trigger fin-
ger, and carpal tunnel syndrome are the most
common occupational MSDs associated with
the arm.
Tendon disorders are very common and
often occur at or near the joints where the ten-
dons rub against other tendons, ligaments, or
bones. The most frequently noted symptoms
of tendon disorders are a dull aching sensa-
tion over the tendon, discomfort with specific
movements, and tenderness to touch. Recov-
ery is usually slow, and the condition may eas-
ily become chronic if the physical stresses
causing the problem are not eliminated or re-
duced.
Another MSD that has received increased
attention in recent years is carpal tunnel syn-
drome, or CTS, which affects the hands and
wrists. CTS is the compression and entrap-
ment of the median nerve where it passes
through the wrist into the hand—in the car-
pal tunnel. The median nerve is the main
nerve that extends down the arm to the hand
and provides the sense of touch in the thumb,
index finger, middle finger, and half of the
fourth, or ring, finger.
When irritated, tendons housed inside the
narrow carpal tunnel swell and press against
the nearby median nerve. The pressure causes
tingling, numbness, or severe pain in the wrist
and hand—often felt while sleeping. The pres-
sure also results in a lack of strength in the
hand and an inability to make a fist, hold
objects, or perform other manual tasks. If the
pressure continues, it can damage the nerve,
causing permanent loss of sensation and even
partial paralysis.
CTS develops in the hands and wrists from
repetitive and forceful manual tasks per-
formed without time to recover. Any worker
whose job demands a lot of repetitive wrist,
hand, and arm motion—not necessarily force-
ful—could develop CTS.
Another MSD that accounts for a signifi-
cant loss of productivity and large compen-
sation costs to industry is back injury. Work-
ers cite back disorders most often, after the
common cold and flu, as reasons for missing
work.
The most common back problems are
pulled or strained muscles, ligaments, and
tendons. More serious disorders involve spi-
nal discs. More than half the work force ex-
perience back pain at least once during a life-
time.
When repetitive pulling and straining in-
jures back muscles or ligaments, the back
muscles, discs, and ligaments can become
scarred and weakened and lose their ability
to support the back. This makes additional in-
juries more likely.
How much does it cost to prevent
MSDs?
Many solutions to ergonomic problems in
the workplace are simple and inexpensive. For
The High Cost of MSDs
•MSDs account for 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses.
•Employers report nearly 600,000 MSDs requiring time away from work every year.
•MSDs account for $1 of every $3 spent for workers’ compensation.
•MSDs each year account for more than $15 billion to $20 billion in workers’ com-
pensation costs. Total direct costs add up to as much as $50 billion annually.
•On average, it takes workers 28 days recover from carpal tunnel syndrome, longer
than the time needed to recover from amputation or fractures.
•Workers with severe injuries can face permanent disability that prevents them
from returning to their jobs or handling simple, everyday tasks.
< << <<
example, awkward and uncomfortable posi-
tions can be eliminated by:
•Adjusting the height of working surfaces,
•Providing telephone headsets,
•Supplying anti-fatigue mats,
•Varying tasks,
•Providing short breaks,
•Reducing the weight and size of items work-
ers must lift,
•Putting supplies and equipment within easy
reach of the worker,
•Providing ergonomic chairs or stools, and
•Supplying the right tool for the job and the
right handle for the worker.
Good ergonomics is good economics.
How can ergonomics help my
workplace?
Providing a workplace free of ergonomic
hazards can do the following:
•Lower injury rates as MSD incidences go
down;
•Increase productivity by making jobs easier
and more comfortable for workers;
•Improve product quality because fewer er-
rors will be made when using automated
processes that demand less physical effort;
•Reduce absences because workers will be
less likely to take time off to recover from
muscle soreness, fatigue, and MSD-related
problems;
•Reduce turnover as new hires are more likely
to find an ergonomically designed job within
their physical capacity;
•Lower costs as workers’ compensation and
other payments for illness and replacement
workers go down;
•Improve worker safety;
•Increase worker comfort;
•Reduce worker fatigue; and
•Improve worker morale.
What can I do to detect and prevent
ergonomic hazards at my workplace?
MSDs are often easy to prevent. If you are
an employer whose workplace poses ergo-
nomic risk factors or whose workers report
MSDs, you can address this problem by:
•Establishing an ergonomics program, and
•Providing and encouraging employees to
participatein the ergonomics program and
in decisions affecting their safety and
health.
If you are an employee who is exposed
to ergonomic risk factors, you should:
•Participate in your employer’s ergonomics
program; and
•Provide feedback to supervisors and em-
ployers through available channels, such as
an established employee safety and health
committee.
Effective ergonomic programs should in-
clude the following elements:
•Management commitment and employee
participation,
•Job hazard analysis,
•Controlling ergonomic risk,
•MSD management, and
•Training and education.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor
Statistics, News Release, “Lost-worktime Injuries and
Illnesses; Characteristics and Resulting Time Away from
Work, 1998,” April 20, 2000. Online at www.bls.gov.
Top Ten Occupations for MSDs
• Nurses aides, orderlies, and attendants
• Truck drivers
• Laborers not involved in construction
work
• Assemblers
• Janitors and cleaners
• Registered nurses
• Stock handlers and baggers
• Construction laborers
• Cashiers
• Carpenters
Ergonomìcs: The Study oí vork ó óó óó
Examples of Musculoskeletal Disorders
Body Parts
Affected
Symptoms Possible Causes Workers
Affected
Disease Name
thumbs pain at the base
of the thumbs
twisting and
gripping
butchers, house-
keepers,
packers, seam-
stresses, cutters
fingers
De Quervain’s
disease
difficulty moving
finger; snapping
and jerking
movements
repeatedly using
the index fingers
meatpackers,
poultry workers,
carpenters,
electronic
assemblers
trigger finger
shoulders pain, stiffness working with the
hands above the
head
power press
operators,
welders, painters,
assembly line
workers
rotator cuff
tendinitis
hands, wrists pain, swelling repetitive or
forceful hand and
wrist motions
core making,
poultry process-
ing, meatpacking
tenosynovitis
fingers, hands numbness,
tingling; ashen
skin; loss of
feeling and
control
exposure to
vibration
chain saw, pneu-
matic hammer,
and gasoline-
powered tool
operators
Raynaud’s
syndrome
(white finger)
fingers, wrists tingling, numb-
ness, severe pain;
loss of strength,
sensation in the
thumbs, index, or
middle or half of
the ring fingers
repetitive and
forceful manual
tasks without
time to recover
meat and poultry
and garment
workers, uphol-
sterers, assem-
blers, VDT
operators,
cashiers
carpal tunnel
syndrome
back low back pain,
shooting pain or
numbness in the
upper legs
whole body
vibration
truck and bus
drivers, tractor
and subway
operators; ware-
house workers;
nurses aides;
grocery cashiers;
baggage handlers
back disability
¬ ¬¬ ¬¬
How do I control ergonomic risk
factors?
Employers can prevent MSD hazards by
properly designing the job or work station and
selecting the appropriate tools or equipment
for that job. Based on information from the
job analysis, an employer can establish pro-
cedures to correct or control risk factors by
using:
•Appropriate engineering controls, such as
work station, tool, and equipment design or
redesign;
•Work practices, such as proper lifting tech-
niques and keeping work areas clean;
•Administrative controls, such as worker
rotation, more task variety, and increased
rest breaks, and if necessary;
•Personal protective equipment, such as knee
pads, vibration gloves, and similar devices.
What is job hazard analysis?
Job hazard analysis identifies problem
jobs and risk factors associated with them.
This step helps employers determine what
jobs and work stations are the source of the
greatest problems. The most effective
worksite analyses include all jobs, operations,
and work activities where there are ergo-
nomic risk factors, regardless of whether the
employer’s medical records indicate that
workers have developed MSDs.
A thorough job analysis is important to
successfully prevent or reduce the various
MSD hazards at a work site. Workers exposed
to ergonomic risk factors may develop a va-
riety of symptoms. Moreover, a combination
of factors in a single job or work station may
cause MSDs. For example, research has
shown that various symptoms among VDT
operators result from problems in equip-
ment, work stations, the office environment,
and job design, or a combination of these. In
addition, VDT operators experience not just
one simple MSD, but often eyestrain, head-
aches, and excessive fatigue as well as neck,
back and muscle pain, and stress. A com-
prehensive analysis of the worksite will iden-
tify the interplay of how various ergonomic
risk factors affect workers.
CTS and Repetitive Motion
The meatpacking industry is one of the
most hazardous industries in the United
States because workers can make as many
as several thousand repetitive motions per
day in assembly line processes, such as
deboning meats, with no variation in mo-
tion. The motions place physical stress and
strain on the wrists and hands, resulting
in CTS.
In manufacturing, garment makers,
who often perform fast-paced piecework
operations involving excessive repetitive
tasks, increase their risk of developing CTS.
Garment industry jobs often require work-
ers to push large amounts of materials
through machinery while sitting on
unadjustable metal stools. Workers doing
these jobs can sustain disabling wrist, back,
and leg injuries.
Video display terminals
(VDTS) should be equipped
with adjustable and
detachable keyboards,
display screens that tilt up
and down, brightness and
contrast controls, and flexible
copy holders that reduce the
distance between the screen
and the source material.
Ergonomìcs: The Study oí vork 8 88 88
The National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health recommends using the fol-
lowing guidelines in jobs requiring manual
handling:
•Minimize the distance between the load and
the body.
•Lift loads from knuckle height.
•Keep the travel distance for the lift to less
than 10 feet.
•Minimize twisting.
•Provide good handles for grasping loads.
It is also important that work tools and
equipment be ergonomically designed. Most
hand tools are designed for only occasional
use, not for repetitive use over prolonged pe-
riods. When acquiring tools for regular use in
an industrial setting, an employer should con-
sider the following ergonomic features:
• Tools should be light-weight and handles
designed to allow a relaxed grip so the wrists
can remain straight.
•Tools should be designed for use with either
hand and be of various sizes so they are ap-
propriate for all workers.
•Tool handles should be shaped so that they
contact the largest possible surface of the
inner hand and fingers. Avoid tool handles
with sharp edges and corners.
•Use power tools to reduce the amount of
human force and repetition required.
•Purchase low-vibration tools to reduce tool
vibration, and, if necessary, fit absorbent rub-
ber sleeves over the tool handle.
Maintenance of tools and equipment also
is essential in preventing or reducing ergo-
nomic hazards. Keep tools sharp and main-
tain them according to the manufacturer’s
specifications. Proper maintenance also can
help reduce vibration resulting from pro-
longed equipment operation.
What comprises MSD management?
MSD management is another important
element of an effective ergonomics program.
Proper MSD management focuses on early
identification and evaluation of signs and
symptoms of MSDs and helps eliminate or re-
duce the risk of developing MSDs.
Employers should include the following
elements in any MSD management program:
•Injury and illness recordkeeping;
•Early recognition and reporting of MSD
symptoms;
•Systematic evaluation and referral to a quali-
fied health care provider;
•Conservative treatment, such as restricted
duty jobs, when necessary;
•Conservative return to work;
•Systematic monitoring, including periodic
workplace walkthroughs;
•Adequate staffing and facilities where em-
ployers provide on-site evaluation;
•Employee training and education;-
•Access to health care providers for each
work shift; and
•No barriers to early reporting.
An Uplifting Solution
Problem: At a glass ceramic cooktop
plant, workers manually lift uncut plates
of glass onto a waist-high conveyor belt,
where it is then stacked vertically on a
nearby L-shaped holder. A forklift
handles the strapped holder carrying the
glass. The holder, however, presents the
glass at knee-height, making workers
bend each time to pick up the glass.
Solution: The workers devised a stand
made from a wooden shipping crate and
placed it beneath the L-holder to raise
the glass to waist height.
Cost: A little labor.
o oo oo
What type of training and education
program do I need?
Training programs will go a long way to-
ward increasing safety awareness among
managers and supervisors, designers, buyers,
mechanics, and workers who perform the
jobs. Training and education ensure that em-
ployers sufficiently inform workers about er-
gonomic risk factors at their worksites so they
are better able to participate actively in their
own protection. Suggestions and input from
workers aware of ergonomic risk factors can
be very helpful in designing improved work-
places to reduce MSD hazards.
A good ergonomics training program will
teach employees how to properly use equip-
ment, tools, and machine controls as well as
the correct way to perform job tasks.
For example, employers should encourage
work methods that allow workers to keep
their joints in a neutral position (wrists straight
and elbows bent at a right angle) while using
tools requiring manual force to prevent exces-
sive force on joints and tendons. Employers
also should tell workers to avoid all side-to-
side twisting and quick motions of their wrists
and to keep their hands in line with their fore-
arms while using tools or operating equip-
ment. Employers should provide the appro-
priate controls or tools, as necessary, to reduce
or eliminate awkward positions.
To minimize or prevent back disorders,
employers should teach workers to avoid long
reaches, maintain neutral postures, and use
proper lifting techniques. Using correct
posture is important whether an employee is
sitting, standing, pulling, pushing, lifting, or
using tools or equipment. Training workers
in general lifting techniques also can help re-
duce the strain leading to back disorders. For
example, employees should use their leg
muscles and bend their knees to pick up and
lower heavy loads. Providing appropriate
equipment, such as conveyors or carts, lift
tables and list assists, can also reduce load
weight, minimizing incorrect lifting and po-
tential injury.
How do I begin an ergonomics
program at my workplace?
If you are an employer who has identified
the need for an ergonomics program at your
worksite, start by planning the program and
the goals, and then put it into action.
Arm Them with Knowledge!
Problem: Employees in many different offices experience pain from their daily tasks.
Solution: Train workers to properly use the adjustments already provided in their
chairs, computer monitors, and furniture systems. Changes in the placement of
telephones, printers, and in-boxes can lead to better working posture. In addition,
training and encouraging employees to take micro-breaks help overused parts of
the body rest and recuperate.
Cost: Nothing.
A Perfect Fit
Problem: Employees in a poultry pro-
cessing plant complained that ill-fitting
protective gloves did not provide ad-
equate protection.
Solution: The poultry processing com-
pany bought workers protective gloves
from several manufacturers to provide
a wide range of sizes for better fit.
Cost: Negligible.
Ergonomìcs: The Study oí vork +o +o +o +o +o
You also may want to contact the ergonom-
ics coordinator at the nearest OSHA Regional
Office listed elsewhere in this brochure for fur-
ther information and assistance. You can also
find out about programs such as OSHA’s a
free consultation program, which can help you
find out about potential hazards at your
worksite, improve your occupational safety
and health management systems, or qualify
for a 1-year exemption from routine OSHA in-
spections. If you are in a state that operates
its own OSHA-approved safety and health
plan, please contact your state plan office.
State plans and consultation programs are
listed on OSHA’s website under Outreach.
How can I find out more about
ergonomics?
For more information about ergonomics,
contact the ergonomics coordinator at your
OSHA Regional Office, visit the Ergonomics
Page on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov, or
call 1 (800) 321-OSHA.
OSHA publishes booklets and fact sheets
detailing agency policy and regulations. Pub-
lications are listed on OSHA’s website, or you
also may contact the OSHA Publications Of-
fice, P.O. Box 37535, Washington, DC 20012-
7535, (202) 693-1888.
A wide range of publications on ergonom-
ics are available from the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health by call-
ing 1-800-35-NIOSH, or through the link on
OSHA’s website.
Some OSHA-approved state plans also
have materials available on ergonomics, such
as CAL-OSHA’s, Easy Ergonomics: A Practical
Approach for Improving the Workplace, at
www.dir.ca. gov/tite8/5110.html.
Really Turning It Around...
Problem: Workers pack items into
rectangular boxes, positioned so they
must reach repeatedly across the long
axis of the boxes, exposing their backs,
shoulders, and arms to physical stress.
Solution: Rotating the boxes allows
workers to reach across the shorter
axis of the box, reducing the length of
reach and the risk of injury.
Cost: Nothing.
Move work surfaces closer
to the body and to a
comfortable height.
++ ++ ++ ++ ++
anthropometry - The study of human body
measurements. Used in developing design
standards and requirements for manufactured
products to ensure they are suitable for the
intended audience.
biomechanics - A scientific and engineering
field that explains the charateristics of biologi-
cal system–the human body–in mechanical
terms.
carpal tunnel syndrome - The compression
and entrapment of the median nerve where it
passes through the wrist into the hand—in the
carpal tunnel. The median nerve is the main
nerve that extends down the arm to the hand
and provides the sense of touch in the thumb,
index finger, middle finger, and half of the
fourth, or ring, finger.
De Quervain’s disease - Inflammation of the
tendon sheath of the thumb attributed to ex-
cessive friction between two thumb tendons
and their common sheath. Usually caused by
twisting and forceful gripping motions with
the hands.
industrial hygiene - The science of anticipat-
ing, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling
workplace conditions that may cause worker
injuries and illnesses.
kinesiology - Study of the principles of me-
chanics and anatomy in relation to human
movement.
musculoskeletal disorders - Injuries and dis-
orders of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons,
ligaments, joints, and cartilage) and nervous
system.
Raynaud’s syndrome, or white finger - Blood
vessels of the hand are damaged from re-
peated exposure to vibration long period of
time. The skin and muscles do not get the nec-
essary oxygen from the blood and eventually
die. Symptoms include intermittent numb-
ness and tingling in the fingers; pale, ashen,
and cold skin; eventual loss of sensation and
control in the hands and fingers.
tendinitis - Tendon inflammation occurring
when a muscle or tendon is repeatedly tensed
from overuse or unaccustomed use of the
wrist and shoulder.
tenosynovitis - Inflammation or injury to the
synovial sheath surrounding the tendon. Usu-
ally results from repetition excessive repeti-
tive motion.
trigger finger - A tendon disorder that occurs
when there is a groove in the flexing tendon
of the finger. If the tendon becomes locked in
the sheath, attempts to move the finger cause
snapping an jerking movements. Usually as-
sociated with using tools that have handles
with hard or sharp edges.
Glossary
Ergonomìcs: The Study oí vork +± +± +± +± +±
Region I
(CT,* MA, ME, NH, RI, VT*)
JFK Federal Building, Room E-340
Boston, MA 02203
(617) 565-9860
Region II
(NJ, NY,* PR,* VI*)
201 Varick Street, Room 670
New York, NY 10014
(212) 337-2378
Region III
(DC, DE, MD,* PA, VA,* WV)
The Curtis Center
170 S. Independence Mall West, Suite 740
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 861-4900
Region IV
(AL, FL, GA, KY,* MS, NC,* SC,* TN)
Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth Street, S.W., Room 6T50
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 562-2300
Region V
(IL, IN,* MI,* MN,* OH, WI)
230 South Dearborn Street
Room 3244
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 353-2220
Region VI
(AR, LA, NM,* OK, TX)
525 Griffin Street, Room 602
Dallas, TX 75202
(214) 767-4731
Region VII
(IA,* KS, MO, NE)
City Center Square
1100 Main Street, Suite 800
Kansas City, MO 64105
(816) 426-5861
Region VIII
(CO, MT, ND, SD, UT,* WY*)
1999 Broadway
Denver, CO 80202-5716
(303) 844-1600
Region IX
(American Samoa, AZ,* CA,* Guam,
HI,* NV,* Trust Territories of the Pacific)
71 Stevenson Street, Room 420
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 975-4310
Region X
(AK,* ID, OR,* WA*)
1111 Third Avenue, Suite 715
Seattle, WA 98101-3212
(206) 553-5930
OSHA Regional Offices
*These states and territories operate their own OSHA-approved job safety and health programs. Connecticut and New York
plans cover public employees only. States with approved programs must have a standard identical to, or at least as effective
as, OSHA federal standards. For more information on state plans, visit OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.

2 What causes work-related MSDs? -------------------------------------------------------.5 What is job hazard analysis? -------------------------------------------------------------.9 How can I find out more about ergonomics? ----------------------------------------.3 What types of work are most likely to pose ergonomic hazards? -------------------.1 Why is ergonomics important? ----------------------------------------------------------.3 How much does it cost to prevent MSDs? ---------------------------------------------.5 What can I do to detect and prevent ergonomic hazards at my workplace? ------.1 What are MSDs? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------.3 How do I know if I have an MSD? ------------------------------------------------------.9 How do I begin an ergonomics program at my workplace? --------------------------.3 What parts of the body are most affected by MSDs? ---------------------------------.8 What type of training and education program do I need? ---------------------------.1 Who needs to read this booklet? --------------------------------------------------------.4 How can ergonomics help my workplace? ---------------------------------------------.7 What comprises MSD management? ---------------------------------------------------.Contents What is ergonomics? ----------------------------------------------------------------------.7 How do I control ergonomic risk factors? ----------------------------------------------.11 Ergonomics: The Study of Work iii .2 Can non-work-related factors cause MSDs? -------------------------------------------.10 Glossary -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------.

OSHA cited companies for hazardous worknate many potentially serious. and agriculthe job. pulling loads without help from other workSolution: The company purchased a dial ers or devices.What is ergonomics? These factors—especially if coupled with Ergonomics can be defined simply as the poor machine design. Characteristics and Resulting Time Away from Work. construction. jugs could leak and spoil products worth thousands of dollars. Adapting tasks. Problem: Pharmaceutical technicians • Using excessive force to perform tasks. • Working more than 8 hours a day. Cost: About $8 per worker. • Lifting heavy or awkward items. and related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). biomechanics. and kinesiology. of the U. ergonomics design or the use of improper tools—create is the science of designing the job to fit the physical stress on workers’ bodies. carrying. made a special cap torque • Increasing specialization that requires the attachment. movement for a long period of time or day after day. Online at • Having tighter grips when using tools. that most operators are poor Industries increasingly require higher projudges of cap torque—resulting in signifiduction rates and advances in technology to cant unwarranted hand and wrist stress.gov. and “Lost-worktime Injuries and Illnesses. tool. As a Operators also were marginally capable result. work stations. industrial hygiene. and 1970s when these disorders increasingly apequipment to fit the worker can help reduce peared on companies’ injury and illness logs. If not adequately tightened. Department of Labor. jobs today can involve: of using the proper torque required to • Frequent lifting. maritime. 2000. faster assembly line speeds. recognizes MSDs as a serious workplace health hazard.S. such as U. 1 . and hand-tighten dozens of vaccine jug lids • Being exposed to excessive vibration or daily. Bureau of Labor Statistics. anthropometry. and pushing or tighten caps adequately. 1998. • Working at a quicker pace of work. More specifically.1 Who needs to read this booklet? You need to know about ergonomics if you are an employer or an employee in the manuUse tools that are right for facturing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics. tural industries and you or your employees’ work activities and job conditions include: • Repeating the same motion throughout your workday. torque wrench. Why is ergonomics important? however. Testing revealed. remain competitive and stay in business. disabling work. Ergonomics draws on a number of back injuries. the • Extreme temperatures. carpal tunnel syndrome. which can worker. rather than physically forcing the lead to injury. These injuries now account for more than onethird of all lost—workday case. Department of Labor. Get a Grip! • Working in awkward or stationary positions.S. News Release.” April 20. including physiology. A dramatic increase in MSDs began in the worker’s body to fit the job. an agency scientific disciplines.bls. tools. physical stress on a worker’s body and elimi. and workplace study of work. psychology. and trained the technicians worker to perform only one function or to use the new equipment.place conditions that caused problems such as tendinitis. www.

and overexertion. lack of breaks. repeated trauma. can increase the amount of force exerted on the Parts of the Body Affected by MSDs body. Prolonged What are MSDs? MSDs. ligaments. industrial engineers. Frequently. sciatica. including pain. press nerves and irritate tendons. falls. MSDs usually result from strict blood flow and damage muscles. difficulty moving.If work tasks and equipment do not include ergonomic principles in their design. They can affect Conditions that are likely to cause MSD probnearly all tissues. including cumulative trauma disor. and sometimes paralysis. can remonths. workers must lose time from work to recover. What causes work-related MSDs? Work-related MSDs occur when the physical capabilities of the worker do not match the physical requirements of the job. and other trained individuals believe that reducing physical stress in the workplace could eliminate up to half of the serious injuries each year. can comries. collision. exposure to multiple risk factors that can cause or exacerbate the disorders. These disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome. Employers can learn to anticipate what might go wrong and alter tools and the work environment to make tasks safer for their workers. or entanglement. repetitive motion. must hold for long periods of time. tendons. not from a single event or trauma such as a fall. reduce blood flow • Fingers • Legs and nerve transmission. • Excessive repetition of movements that can Occupational safety and health professionirritate tendons and increase pressure on als have called these disorders a variety of nerves. or musculoskeletal disorders. herniated discs. trips. or positions that a worker generally develop gradually over weeks. Ergonomists. some never regain full health. Ergonomics: The Study of Work . • Neck • Shoulders • Inadequate recovery time due to overtime. joints. the arms and back. (muscles. strain. including vibration. muscle loss. and heavy lifting. forceful exertions. names. and occupational overexertion syndrome. MSDs can cause a number of conditions. occupational safety and health professionals. •Motion. are exposure to ergonomic risk factors can cause injuries and disorders of the soft tissues damage a worker’s body and lead to MSDs. including the nerves and lems include the following: tendon sheaths.• Awkward postures. and years. or similar accidents. or unsupported posiders. • Arms • Back • Compression. workers may have exposure to undue physical stress. repetitive stress injutions that stretch physical limits. and most frequently involve • Exerting excessive force. tingling. and damage tendons and tendon sheaths. from grasping sharp edges like tool handles. stiff joints. numbness. These painful and often disabling injuries • Static postures. can concentrate force on • Hands • Wrists small areas of the body. awkward postures. and cartilage) and nervous system. such as increased speed or acceleration when bending and twisting. tendinitis. and failure to vary tasks can leave insufficient time for tissue repair. Recognizing ergonomic risk factors in the workplace is an essential first step in correcting hazards and improving worker protection. MSDs do not include injuries resulting from slips. and low back pain.

these risk factors must be present for a sufficient duration. The most frequently affected areas of the body are the arms and the back. . from driving trucks or operating subways. hobbies usually are not pri.• Excessive vibration. These risk factors. In these instances. can decrease blood flow. • Hobbies that are hand intensive or require manual handling. however. When lifting. usually from vibrating tools. and tes. • Psychological or social workplace stress. and arthritis. tendon sheaths. include: • Manufacturing and production. can subject workers’ shoulders. backs. and • Awkward postures • Working in cold temperatures can adversely affect a worker’s coordination and manual • Static postures dexterity and cause a worker to use more • Quick motions force than necessary to perform a task. wrists. or • Back pain. The disorders occur cause or contribute to MSDs. forceful. • Long hours of working in awkward • Pregnancy. • Difficulty moving your finger. or magnitude. Can non-work-related factors cause MSDs? to pose ergonomic hazards? MSDs affect workers in almost every occupation and industry in the nation and in Yes. however. damage MSD Risk Factors nerves. • Twisting movements. can affect skeletal • Repetition muscles and cause low-back pain. • Stiff joints. To contribute to MSDs. • Medical conditions. and contribute to muscle fatigue. or flex• Cold temperatures ing motions during a typical workday. These factors most frequently in jobs that involve: • Manual handling. either alone or in com• Compression or contact stress bination. What types of work are most likely frequency. • Vibration arms. tendons. positions. hands. and legs to thousands of repetitive twisting. such as obesity.• Heavy lifting. What parts of the body are most affected by MSDs? MSDs can affect nearly all tissues in the human body: the nerves. Avoid lifting while sitting. diabe. and muscles.You could have a work-related MSD if you experience any of the following: mary risk factors. Risk factors not related to your job can workplaces of all sizes. • Numbness in your thighs. maintain an upright position and avoid bending and twisting. because one can control the duration How do I know if I have an MSD? and exposures. • Physical conditioning. and • Numbness in your fingers. • Force • Whole-body vibration.

000 MSDs requiring time away from work every year. the back muscles. and arm motion—not necessarily forceful—could develop CTS. How much does it cost to prevent MSDs? Many solutions to ergonomic problems in the workplace are simple and inexpensive. and half of the fourth. CTS develops in the hands and wrists from repetitive and forceful manual tasks performed without time to recover. or bones. The median nerve is the main nerve that extends down the arm to the hand and provides the sense of touch in the thumb. The pressure also results in a lack of strength in the hand and an inability to make a fist. The most common back problems are pulled or strained muscles. or ring. middle finger. index finger. • MSDs account for $1 of every $3 spent for workers’ compensation. When irritated. Tendon disorders are very common and often occur at or near the joints where the tendons rub against other tendons. after the common cold and flu. trigger finger. hold objects. everyday tasks. and carpal tunnel syndrome are the most common occupational MSDs associated with the arm. and tenderness to touch. Ergonomics: The Study of Work . it can damage the nerve. tendons housed inside the narrow carpal tunnel swell and press against the nearby median nerve. numbness. or CTS. discomfort with specific movements. and ligaments can become scarred and weakened and lose their ability to support the back. and the condition may easily become chronic if the physical stresses causing the problem are not eliminated or reduced. Another MSD that has received increased attention in recent years is carpal tunnel syndrome. • MSDs each year account for more than $15 billion to $20 billion in workers’ compensation costs. For The High Cost of MSDs • MSDs account for 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses. ligaments. Any worker whose job demands a lot of repetitive wrist. finger. or severe pain in the wrist and hand—often felt while sleeping. Workers cite back disorders most often.Tendon disorders such as tendinitis. The most frequently noted symptoms of tendon disorders are a dull aching sensation over the tendon. or perform other manual tasks. as reasons for missing work. ligaments. • Workers with severe injuries can face permanent disability that prevents them from returning to their jobs or handling simple. If the pressure continues. Recovery is usually slow. More than half the work force experience back pain at least once during a lifetime. De Quervain’s disease. More serious disorders involve spinal discs. • On average. The pressure causes tingling. When repetitive pulling and straining injures back muscles or ligaments. hand. longer than the time needed to recover from amputation or fractures. which affects the hands and wrists. discs. Another MSD that accounts for a significant loss of productivity and large compensation costs to industry is back injury. • Employers report nearly 600. it takes workers 28 days recover from carpal tunnel syndrome. and tendons. causing permanent loss of sensation and even partial paralysis. This makes additional injuries more likely. tenosynovitis. CTS is the compression and entrapment of the median nerve where it passes through the wrist into the hand—in the carpal tunnel. Total direct costs add up to as much as $50 billion annually.

fatigue. Characteristics and Resulting Time Away from Work. such as an established employee safety and health committee. orderlies. and • Supplying the right tool for the job and the right handle for the worker. “Lost-worktime Injuries and Illnesses. • Varying tasks. 2000. you should: • Participate in your employer’s ergonomics program.” April 20. • Increase worker comfort. and attendants • Truck drivers • Laborers not involved in construction work • Assemblers • Janitors and cleaners • Registered nurses • Stock handlers and baggers • Construction laborers • Cashiers • Carpenters Source: U. • Reduce worker fatigue. • Controlling ergonomic risk. 1998. . • Putting supplies and equipment within easy reach of the worker. • Reduce absences because workers will be less likely to take time off to recover from muscle soreness. What can I do to detect and prevent ergonomic hazards at my workplace? MSDs are often easy to prevent. you can address this problem by: • Establishing an ergonomics program. • MSD management. • Improve product quality because fewer errors will be made when using automated processes that demand less physical effort. and • Provide feedback to supervisors and employers through available channels. • Lower costs as workers’ compensation and other payments for illness and replacement workers go down. and • Training and education. • Supplying anti-fatigue mats. • Providing short breaks. • Reduce turnover as new hires are more likely to find an ergonomically designed job within their physical capacity. and • Improve worker morale. How can ergonomics help my workplace? Providing a workplace free of ergonomic hazards can do the following: • Lower injury rates as MSD incidences go down. Good ergonomics is good economics. Effective ergonomic programs should include the following elements: • Management commitment and employee participation.bls. • Improve worker safety. Department of Labor. • Providing telephone headsets. News Release. Top Ten Occupations for MSDs • Nurses aides. • Providing ergonomic chairs or stools. Online at www. • Reducing the weight and size of items workers must lift. Bureau of Labor Statistics. • Increase productivity by making jobs easier and more comfortable for workers.S. awkward and uncomfortable positions can be eliminated by: • Adjusting the height of working surfaces. If you are an employer whose workplace poses ergonomic risk factors or whose workers report MSDs. and MSD-related problems. If you are an employee who is exposed to ergonomic risk factors. and • Providing and encouraging employees to participatein the ergonomics program and in decisions affecting their safety and health.gov. • Job hazard analysis.example.

loss of strength. swelling repetitive or forceful hand and wrist motions exposure to vibration tenosynovitis fingers. electronic assemblers power press operators. packers. housekeepers. poultry workers. poultry processing. ashen skin. or middle or half of the ring fingers low back pain. tingling. and gasolinepowered tool operators meat and poultry and garment workers. painters.Examples of Musculoskeletal Disorders Body Parts Affected thumbs Symptoms pain at the base of the thumbs Possible Causes twisting and gripping Workers Affected butchers. assembly line workers core making. numbness. pneumatic hammer. upholsterers. nurses aides. sensation in the thumbs. meatpacking chain saw. warehouse workers. tractor and subway operators. VDT operators. cashiers truck and bus drivers. carpenters. welders. loss of feeling and control tingling. severe pain. cutters meatpackers. snapping and jerking movements pain. wrists repetitive and forceful manual tasks without time to recover carpal tunnel syndrome back whole body vibration back disability Ergonomics: The Study of Work . assemblers. shooting pain or numbness in the upper legs Raynaud’s syndrome (white finger) fingers. hands numbness. baggage handlers Disease Name De Quervain’s disease fingers difficulty moving finger. seamstresses. wrists pain. index. grocery cashiers. stiffness repeatedly using the index fingers trigger finger shoulders working with the hands above the head rotator cuff tendinitis hands.

a combination of factors in a single job or work station may cause MSDs. back and muscle pain. VDT operators experience not just one simple MSD. How do I control ergonomic risk factors? Employers can prevent MSD hazards by properly designing the job or work station and selecting the appropriate tools or equipment for that job. garment makers. such as knee pads. Moreover. vibration gloves. the office environment. and leg injuries. In manufacturing. tool. such as proper lifting techniques and keeping work areas clean. Workers exposed to ergonomic risk factors may develop a variety of symptoms. operations. an employer can establish procedures to correct or control risk factors by using: • Appropriate engineering controls. This step helps employers determine what jobs and work stations are the source of the greatest problems. The most effective worksite analyses include all jobs. A comprehensive analysis of the worksite will identify the interplay of how various ergonomic risk factors affect workers. Garment industry jobs often require workers to push large amounts of materials through machinery while sitting on unadjustable metal stools. • Administrative controls. regardless of whether the employer’s medical records indicate that workers have developed MSDs. more task variety. . and job design. resulting in CTS.What is job hazard analysis? Job hazard analysis identifies problem jobs and risk factors associated with them. who often perform fast-paced piecework operations involving excessive repetitive tasks. In addition. such as work station. such as worker rotation. increase their risk of developing CTS. and stress. research has shown that various symptoms among VDT operators result from problems in equipment. such as deboning meats. Workers doing these jobs can sustain disabling wrist. CTS and Repetitive Motion The meatpacking industry is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States because workers can make as many as several thousand repetitive motions per day in assembly line processes. with no variation in motion. • Personal protective equipment. or a combination of these. back. and excessive fatigue as well as neck. headaches. but often eyestrain. brightness and contrast controls. and equipment design or redesign. A thorough job analysis is important to successfully prevent or reduce the various MSD hazards at a work site. and similar devices. For example. work stations. Video display terminals (VDTS) should be equipped with adjustable and detachable keyboards. The motions place physical stress and strain on the wrists and hands. Based on information from the job analysis. and increased rest breaks. and if necessary. display screens that tilt up and down. and flexible copy holders that reduce the distance between the screen and the source material. • Work practices. and work activities where there are ergonomic risk factors.

making workers bend each time to pick up the glass. • Adequate staffing and facilities where employers provide on-site evaluation. an employer should consider the following ergonomic features: • Tools should be light-weight and handles designed to allow a relaxed grip so the wrists can remain straight. • Minimize twisting. • Purchase low-vibration tools to reduce tool vibration. Proper maintenance also can help reduce vibration resulting from prolonged equipment operation. Ergonomics: The Study of Work . however. A forklift handles the strapped holder carrying the glass. • Lift loads from knuckle height. • Tools should be designed for use with either hand and be of various sizes so they are appropriate for all workers. • Early recognition and reporting of MSD symptoms. not for repetitive use over prolonged periods. including periodic workplace walkthroughs. • Use power tools to reduce the amount of human force and repetition required. • Employee training and education. • Systematic evaluation and referral to a qualified health care provider. Avoid tool handles with sharp edges and corners. such as restricted duty jobs. workers manually lift uncut plates of glass onto a waist-high conveyor belt. When acquiring tools for regular use in an industrial setting. • Conservative treatment. What comprises MSD management? MSD management is another important element of an effective ergonomics program. when necessary. • Systematic monitoring. Maintenance of tools and equipment also is essential in preventing or reducing ergonomic hazards. where it is then stacked vertically on a nearby L-shaped holder. if necessary. Employers should include the following elements in any MSD management program: • Injury and illness recordkeeping. and. Cost: A little labor. It is also important that work tools and equipment be ergonomically designed. The holder. • Provide good handles for grasping loads. Proper MSD management focuses on early identification and evaluation of signs and symptoms of MSDs and helps eliminate or reduce the risk of developing MSDs.• Access to health care providers for each work shift. Keep tools sharp and maintain them according to the manufacturer’s specifications. presents the glass at knee-height. • Tool handles should be shaped so that they contact the largest possible surface of the inner hand and fingers. An Uplifting Solution Problem: At a glass ceramic cooktop plant.The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends using the following guidelines in jobs requiring manual handling: • Minimize the distance between the load and the body. fit absorbent rubber sleeves over the tool handle. • Keep the travel distance for the lift to less than 10 feet. and • No barriers to early reporting. • Conservative return to work. Solution: The workers devised a stand made from a wooden shipping crate and placed it beneath the L-holder to raise the glass to waist height. Most hand tools are designed for only occasional use.

In addition. lifting. pulling. Solution: Train workers to properly use the adjustments already provided in their chairs. start by planning the program and the goals. to reduce or eliminate awkward positions. can also reduce load weight. To minimize or prevent back disorders. Providing appropriate equipment. employers should teach workers to avoid long reaches. sitting. and furniture systems. computer monitors. standing. For example. printers. employees should use their leg muscles and bend their knees to pick up and lower heavy loads. Employers should provide the appropriate controls or tools. lift tables and list assists. as necessary. Cost: Nothing. Cost: Negligible. designers. or using tools or equipment. Solution: The poultry processing company bought workers protective gloves from several manufacturers to provide a wide range of sizes for better fit. maintain neutral postures.What type of training and education program do I need? A Perfect Fit Training programs will go a long way toward increasing safety awareness among managers and supervisors. How do I begin an ergonomics program at my workplace? If you are an employer who has identified the need for an ergonomics program at your worksite. Changes in the placement of telephones. pushing. Training workers in general lifting techniques also can help reduce the strain leading to back disorders. Suggestions and input from workers aware of ergonomic risk factors can be very helpful in designing improved workplaces to reduce MSD hazards. and machine controls as well as the correct way to perform job tasks. Problem: Employees in a poultry processing plant complained that ill-fitting protective gloves did not provide adequate protection. and workers who perform the jobs. and in-boxes can lead to better working posture. . training and encouraging employees to take micro-breaks help overused parts of the body rest and recuperate. mechanics. tools. Using correct posture is important whether an employee is Arm Them with Knowledge! Problem: Employees in many different offices experience pain from their daily tasks. employers should encourage work methods that allow workers to keep their joints in a neutral position (wrists straight and elbows bent at a right angle) while using tools requiring manual force to prevent excessive force on joints and tendons. Employers also should tell workers to avoid all side-toside twisting and quick motions of their wrists and to keep their hands in line with their forearms while using tools or operating equipment. minimizing incorrect lifting and potential injury. A good ergonomics training program will teach employees how to properly use equipment. and use proper lifting techniques. Training and education ensure that employers sufficiently inform workers about ergonomic risk factors at their worksites so they are better able to participate actively in their own protection. For example. such as conveyors or carts. and then put it into action. buyers.

dir. or qualify for a 1-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. which can help you find out about potential hazards at your worksite. A wide range of publications on ergonomics are available from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health by calling 1-800-35-NIOSH.. Ergonomics: The Study of Work . shoulders. Box 37535. You also may want to contact the ergonomics coordinator at the nearest OSHA Regional Office listed elsewhere in this brochure for further information and assistance. (202) 693-1888. Move work surfaces closer to the body and to a comfortable height. at www. How can I find out more about ergonomics? For more information about ergonomics.. or call 1 (800) 321-OSHA. gov/tite8/5110. Washington. or through the link on OSHA’s website. Solution: Rotating the boxes allows workers to reach across the shorter axis of the box. or you also may contact the OSHA Publications Office. exposing their backs. Some OSHA-approved state plans also have materials available on ergonomics. reducing the length of reach and the risk of injury. contact the ergonomics coordinator at your OSHA Regional Office. DC 200127535.O. positioned so they must reach repeatedly across the long axis of the boxes.ca.html. visit the Ergonomics Page on OSHA’s website at www. and arms to physical stress. OSHA publishes booklets and fact sheets detailing agency policy and regulations. please contact your state plan office.Really Turning It Around.gov. improve your occupational safety and health management systems. State plans and consultation programs are listed on OSHA’s website under Outreach. Problem: Workers pack items into rectangular boxes. such as CAL-OSHA’s. You can also find out about programs such as OSHA’s a free consultation program. If you are in a state that operates its own OSHA-approved safety and health plan. Easy Ergonomics: A Practical Approach for Improving the Workplace. Cost: Nothing. Publications are listed on OSHA’s website.osha. P.

Usuindex finger.The compression when a muscle or tendon is repeatedly tensed and entrapment of the median nerve where it from overuse or unaccustomed use of the passes through the wrist into the hand—in the wrist and shoulder.Glossary anthropometry .Inflammation or injury to the and provides the sense of touch in the thumb. musculoskeletal disorders . Symptoms include intermittent numbbiomechanics . or white finger . ashen. terms. tive motion.Tendon inflammation occurring carpal tunnel syndrome . Usually associated with using tools that have handles with hard or sharp edges. recognizing. joints. Used in developing design standards and requirements for manufactured products to ensure they are suitable for the intended audience. Raynaud’s syndrome. or ring.A tendon disorder that occurs when there is a groove in the flexing tendon of the finger. . and half of the ally results from repetition excessive repetifourth. tendons. De Quervain’s disease .Injuries and disorders of the soft tissues (muscles. and cartilage) and nervous system. finger. industrial hygiene . If the tendon becomes locked in the sheath.Study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement.and cold skin. attempts to move the finger cause snapping an jerking movements. evaluating. eventual loss of sensation and cal system–the human body–in mechanical control in the hands and fingers. synovial sheath surrounding the tendon.Blood vessels of the hand are damaged from repeated exposure to vibration long period of time. The skin and muscles do not get the necessary oxygen from the blood and eventually die.A scientific and engineering ness and tingling in the fingers. The median nerve is the main nerve that extends down the arm to the hand tenosynovitis . trigger finger . and controlling workplace conditions that may cause worker injuries and illnesses. ligaments. pale.The study of human body measurements. tendinitis . middle finger. carpal tunnel. kinesiology . Usually caused by twisting and forceful gripping motions with the hands.Inflammation of the tendon sheath of the thumb attributed to excessive friction between two thumb tendons and their common sheath. field that explains the charateristics of biologi.The science of anticipating.

VA. GA.* WV) The Curtis Center 170 S. NY.* Trust Territories of the Pacific) 71 Stevenson Street.OSHA Regional Offices Region I (CT. GA 30303 (404) 562-2300 Region V (IL.* Guam.* TN) Atlanta Federal Center 61 Forsyth Street. KY. WA 98101-3212 (206) 553-5930 *These states and territories operate their own OSHA-approved job safety and health programs. Room 670 New York. NM.. visit OSHA’s website at www. TX) 525 Griffin Street.* OK.* WY*) 1999 Broadway Denver. RI. AZ.* WA*) 1111 Third Avenue. Connecticut and New York plans cover public employees only.* VI*) 201 Varick Street. or at least as effective as. MD. Suite 715 Seattle.* MN. Ergonomics: The Study of Work . IL 60604 (312) 353-2220 Region VI (AR. MA 02203 (617) 565-9860 Region II (NJ.* SC. NY 10014 (212) 337-2378 Region III (DC. TX 75202 (214) 767-4731 Region VII (IA.* KS.* CA. HI. ME. MT. NC. PA 19104 (215) 861-4900 Region IV (AL. ND.* PA. Room 420 San Francisco.* NV.* ID.* PR.W. MO 64105 (816) 426-5861 Region VIII (CO.* OH. Room 602 Dallas. Suite 740 Philadelphia. NE) City Center Square 1100 Main Street. Suite 800 Kansas City. UT.* MA. States with approved programs must have a standard identical to.gov. LA. OSHA federal standards. OR.osha. IN. SD. DE.* MS. FL. VT*) JFK Federal Building. For more information on state plans. NH. S. CO 80202-5716 (303) 844-1600 Region IX (American Samoa. WI) 230 South Dearborn Street Room 3244 Chicago. CA 94105 (415) 975-4310 Region X (AK. Room 6T50 Atlanta. MO. Independence Mall West. Room E-340 Boston.* MI.

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