Ergonomic Assessments

In November, 1996, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted a standard which is aimed at preventing workplace injuries which are caused by repetitive motions. It requires employers who have had more than one employee within the last 12 months with the same objectively diagnosed repetitive motion injury to perform a work site evaluation and take action, including training to correct and prevent such losses.

Repetitive motion injuries, which include carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendinitis, sprains and strains, are the fastest-growing workplace injuries. This is costly to employers in terms of increased workers compensation premiums, lost time for employees, and the cost of having to recruit and train new employees. In many cases, modifying employees’ work stations can contribute greatly to reducing the number of repetitive motion injuries which occur. Modifying a work station so that it is ergonomically correct can be as simple as making proper adjustments to a chair or rearranging the work space. If new furniture or equipment needs to be purchased, this can usually be accomplished for $500 to $1500, a small price compared to the cost of employee injuries or an ADA lawsuit. If you have employees who have already incurred injuries at work, modifying work stations so that they are ergonomically correct may also help you be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For workstations where a computer is used regularly, the most common adjustments which need to be made are to the height of the chairs, the positioning of keyboards, mouse, computer monitors, telephones, and files. In companies where workers engage in manual labor, the problems usually arise when one person performs heavy lifting alone, lifts items off the floor, uses vibrating tools, or twists while moving objects. In addition, instructions given to employees regarding correct body positions and proper use of ergonomic equipment is crucial for long-term success in reducing injuries.

Contact June Hagen, Ph.D. for a comprehensive evaluation of your work areas and how modifications may save you money by reducing injuries and improving productivity. 310.399.3754