Ergonomic Evaluations

Ergonomics is the scientific study of human work and considers the capabilities and limits of the worker during interaction with tools, equipment, work methods, tasks, and the working environment. It is, “fitting the task to the person and not the person to the task”.

Lafayette College recognizes the importance of proper work environments and the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as part of our effort to keep employees safe. Promoting faculty, staff and student well-being is an essential part of maintaining an effective environmental health and safety program.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Ergonomics resource page, workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively.

Contact EHS if you have concerns about an ergonomic issue at your workstation, or with a specific work process.

ergonomic evaluation process

EHS will meet with  employees to evaluate their workstation, equipment and work habits, and make recommendations for corrective actions to alleviate discomfort and prevent injury.

Many people don’t realize that a poorly designed computer workstation and/or bad work habits can result in health problems. Common symptoms associated with poor design or habits include discomfort in the back, neck and shoulders, hands and wrists, as well as headaches and eyestrain. If you experience any of these symptoms while working, contact your medical provider.

Ergonomics evaluations for office workstations include review of the following:

  • Chairs – height, foot placement, lumbar support, leg support, arm support
  • Desk Surface – height, orientation
  • Keyboard & Mouse – positioning, arm support, comfort
  • Computer Monitor – screen distance, height, positioning, glare
  • Telephone Use – assess need for hands-free headset
  • Work Habits – assessment of time spent at desk

Evaluations of physical work procedures are conducted as part of an overall Job Hazard Analysis, and include the following considerations:

  • Lifting safely
  • Posture and poor alignment
  • Repetitive motion
  • Awkward stretches while reaching
  • Static work postures

Ergonomics Best Practices

A recommendation that is offered during every ergonomic evaluation is to be sure to take breaks from sitting at your desk throughout the day, and regularly stretch. There are many options for browser extensions and free software downloads that can remind you to get up and take a break, or you can simply set a timer. 

Below are some resources for stretching to prevent common desk-related aches and pains.

Ergonomics while working remotely

Below are some resources to help with establishing an ergonomic workstation while working from home.