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Environmental Health and Safety * 2809 Daley Drive * Ames, Iowa 50011-3660 *
(515) 294-5359 * www.ehs.iastate.edu
University Nondiscrimination Statement
Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race,
color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender
identity, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. veteran.
Inquiries can be directed to the Director of Equal Opportunity and
Diversity, 3210 Beardshear Hall, (515) 294-7612.
Directory of Service and Emergency Providers
Environmental Health and Safety
2809 Daley Drive | 294-5359
Occupational Medicine Offce
G11 TASF | 294-2056
Thielen Student Health Center
Sheldon and Union Drive | 294-5801
McFarland Clinic Occupational Medicine
1018 Duff Avenue | 239-4496
Mary Greeley Medical Center (Emergency Room)
1111 Duff Avenue | 239-2011 or 911
Department of Public Safety
Armory | 294-4428 or 911 on campus
What Is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the study of work. The goal of an ergonomics
program is to ensure employees can work comfortably with their
workplace demands or tasks, thereby decreasing the risk of injury
Examples of Ergonomic Injuries / Illnesses
The most common types of ergonomic injuries and illnesses are
musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs are injuries/illnesses
that affect muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, or spinal
discs. Employees may suffer ergonomic injuries/illnesses when
work tasks include reaching, bending over, lifting heavy objects,
using continuous force, working with vibrating equipment, and/or
performing repetitive motions.
MSD injuries/illnesses are determined by the part of the body
affected. If you suffer an ergonomic injury/illness, your doctor
may diagnose one of the following common MSDs:
◘ Carpal tunnel syndrome
◘ Carpet layer’s knee
◘ De Quervain’s disease
◘ Hand-arm vibration syndrome
◘ Herniated spinal disc
◘ Low back pain
◘ Raynaud’s phenomenon
◘ Rotator cuff syndrome
◘ Tension neck syndrome
◘ Trigger fnger
Signs and Symptoms of an MSD
Employees suffering from MSDs may
experience lessened grip strength, decreased
range of motion, loss of muscle function,
and inability to do everyday tasks. Common
◘ Back or neck pain
◘ Burning sensation
◘ Fingers or toes turning white
◘ Pain, tingling or numbness in hands or feet
◘ Pain in wrists, shoulders, forearms, or knees
◘ Painful joints
◘ Shooting or stabbing pains in arms or legs
◘ Swelling or infammation
Ergonomics Programs At Iowa State University
As part of a comprehensive health and safety program, the
Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
offers Iowa State University personnel a variety of ergonomic
Employees can choose from ergonomic workstation evaluations,
classroom training or online resource information. If you would
like to learn more about a particular topic, please visit the EH&S
online ergonomics page.
Online information includes ergonomic services available to the
Iowa State University community, e-books for training on various
ergonomically related topics and information on ergonomic risk
factors. Additional links provide information on lifting, computer
use concerns, stretching, and workstation ergonomic checklists.
EH&S offers ergonomic worksite
evaluations. The purpose of an
ergonomic evaluation is to identify
occupational injury risk factors and make
appropriate recommendations based on
current guidelines. To request a worksite
◘ Inform your supervisor about your concerns and that you
would like to schedule an ergonomic worksite evaluation
◘ Call EH&S at 294-5359 to schedule an ergonomic worksite
evaluation. The employee or supervisor can schedule an
ergonomic worksite evaluation, EH&S encourages the
participation of both parties in the evaluation process.
Causes of MSDs
As is the case with many medical conditions, exact causes
of MSDs are not always known. Both non-occupational and
occupational factors can contribute to the development of MSDs.
Work-related MSDs may be caused or exacerbated by exposure
to the following risk factors.
Pressing the body against a hard or sharp edge can result in
placing too much pressure on nerves, tendons and
blood vessels. For example, using the palm
of your hand as a hammer or resting your
arms against a sharp counter top or desk
edge can increase your MSD risk.
Posture affects muscle groups that are involved in physical
activity. Awkward postures include repeated or prolonged
reaching, twisting, bending, kneeling, squatting, working
overhead with your hands or arms, or holding fxed
Force is the amount of physical effort required to perform a
task (such as heavy lifting) or maintain control of equipment
or tools. The amount of force depends on the type of grip,
the weight of an object, body posture, the type of activity,
and the duration of the task.
Repeating the same motions over
and over again places stress on
muscles and tendons. The severity
of risk depends on how often the
action is repeated, the speed of the
movement, the number of muscles involved and the required
Operating vibrating tools over extended periods of time may
lead to nerve damage. Examples of vibrating tools include
sanders, grinders, chippers, routers, drills, and saws.
Ergonomic Features to Look For
There are a number of tool characteristics to look for when
creating ergonomically-friendly workplace environments.
Consider the following when examining your workplace
Ideally, an offce workstation should have two work heights,
one for writing and document viewing and another for
optimal keying height (around 26 inches above the foor).
Because most new desks have a fxed work surface height
of 30 inches, a keyboard tray can be used to create a
lowering keying height. As with ergonomic chairs (described
below), the use of keyboard trays is the responsibility of your
department. A keyboard tray can be purchased through ISU
Purchasing at 294-4860.
Since chairs must accommodate a person’s individual
characteristics, one should consider using a quality
ergonomic chair. Desirable ergonomic features to consider
when choosing a new desk chair include adjustable
backrests, chair heights, seat pan angle and armrests. Other
important chair features are discussed in EH&S’s e-book
entitled “Features to Consider When Purchasing a Chair.”
If you are considering buying a new chair, ISU Purchasing
(294-4860) has a number of ergonomic chair models
available for purchase and testing at the Administrative
Services Building (ASB).
Ergonomic Accessory Installation and
To schedule ergonomic accessory installation (such as keyboard
tray placement) or workstation furniture adjustment or relocation,
contact Central Stores at 294-8484.
If your offce area will be relocated or requires redesign, submit
a Request for Services to FP&M and request that one of their
designers assist with the redesign. Design Services can evaluate
your work areas and develop an effcient layout for offce
Information and Ergonomics Training
There are a number of resources available for further information
and instruction on creating ergonomically-friendly workplace
environments. These resources can prove invaluable in creating
a better working environment.
An ergonomics training course entitled “Offce Ergonomics”
is available through EH&S. This course focuses on the
prevention of repetitive motion injury, as well as proper
workstation confgurations and adjustment. Information
on correct lifting and computer-related eyestrain is also
presented. If you would like to sign up for the classroom
training course or arrange for on-site ergonomics training for
campus personnel, please contact EH&S at 294-5359.
Ergonomics electronic books or “e-books”
E-books are online training guides designed to offer easily
accessible and timely information. EH&S’s e-books can be
accessed online for additional information. Current titles
◘ Alternative Keyboards and Pointing Devices
◘ Computer Workstation Ergonomics Checklist
◘ Eliminating Computer Eyestrain
◘ Features to Consider When Purchasing a Chair
◘ Introduction to Ergonomics
◘ Laboratory Ergonomics
◘ Low Back Pain
◘ Manual Materials Handling
◘ Sitting Down on the Job: Ergonomics Tips
◘ Stretching at Work
◘ Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Ergonomic Medical Care
All employees seeking treatment for work-related injuries or
illnesses, including ergonomic medical concerns, should frst
notify their departmental supervisors.
A First Report of Injury must be completed through AccessPlus
by the supervisor and submitted within 24 hours of the incident
or diagnosis. The online questionnaire is listed as “Work
Injury” under the “Employee” tab within AccessPlus. Questions
regarding the form may be forwarded to Human Resource
Services at 294-3753.
Medical Care - Ames
The McFarland Clinic Occupational HealthWorks
is the workers’ compensation provider for
Ames-area Iowa State University employees.
Occupational HealthWorks provides treatment
and consultation for occupationally related accidents, illnesses
The clinic is located at 1215 Duff Avenue, and offce hours are
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Supervisors
should call 239-4496 to schedule appointments for medical
care. Building access is available on the north and east sides,
including handicap accessibility. Free parking is available to the
north and east, with limited spaces available on the west side of
Medical Care – Outside of Ames
A list of approved workers compensation medical providers
outside the Ames area is available by calling the Offce of Risk
Management at 294-7711.
OSHA Ergonomic Regulations
There are no OSHA regulations on ergonomics at this time.
A fnal standard was published on November 13, 2000, which
was to go into effect on January 16, 2001. This standard was
overturned by Congress under the Congressional Review Act in
March 2001, and subsequently repealed by Executive signature
However, ergonomic hazards must still be addressed in the
workplace. Under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety
and Health Act, OSHA requires that Iowa State University furnish
to each employee a place of employment free from recognized
hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious
physical harm to its employees.
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