The Ergonomics program is a division of Risk Management and Insurance at Colorado State University. Although one of the major goals of the program is to prevent ergonomic-related injuries through education, evaluation of workstations and work practices, and implementation of ergonomic control strategies, ergonomics also seeks to minimize inefficiencies, improve productivity, and increase employee health.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands (tasks, work spaces, controls, displays, tools, lighting, and equipment) to the capabilities of the working population. The goal of ergonomics is to prevent soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) caused by sudden or sustained exposure to force, vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture. (Adapted from NIOSH)
The CSU Ergonomics program offers a variety of ergonomic-related services, including but not limited to ergonomic evaluations for the both office/computer environment and those outside of the office (i.e. laboratory, custodial, food services, etc.) customized job-specific training and educational sessions, as well as product and equipment assessment and review.
Ergonomics expands to all areas of work whether in the office, laboratory, materials handling, or production facility. Identifying, evaluating, and controlling exposure to ergonomic injury risk factors (the problem areas and root causes of injury) when performing any job task is crucial in preventing work-related pain and injury, increasing productivity, and reducing waste. (Risk factors include but are not limited to; awkward postures, force, repetition, duration, and contact stress.) The identification of injury risk factors is the foundation of an ergonomic evaluation.
Office Ergonomic Evaluations
Before your Ergonomic Evaluation
The CSU Ergonomics Team recommends completing both the Office Computer Workstation Setup and Home Office Computer Workstation Setup trainings prior to your Ergo Evaluation. As these training sessions have similarities but are not identical, consider completing both to ensure a clear understanding of workstation setup regardless of work location.
As part of the injury prevention program, CSU Ergonomics maintains an Ergolab (showroom) for employees to view and test office ergonomics equipment.
Equipment in the Ergolab includes, but is not limited to: chairs, height-adjustable tables, and desks, lighting, keyboards, mice, keyboard trays, etc. Although not mandatory, it is highly recommended that prior to purchase, the equipment be tried to determine effectiveness. Equipment and products in the Ergolab are evaluated and tested by certified ergonomists prior to implementation in the lab to ensure the highest quality options for employees. Items not in the Ergolab are not approved/recommended items or have yet to be tested. Not all options available for resale may be available in the Ergolab.
The CSU Ergonomics Program does not sell equipment of any kind. Equipment and furniture in the Ergolab can be purchased through CSU approved vendors (where a contract is applicable). This includes furniture, desks, tables, chairs, etc. However, in complement to the Ergolab, the CSU Ergonomics Program provides equipment for loan. The loan or trial period (typically ~2 weeks) is free of charge, to assist employees in selecting items for purchase. Not all equipment/furniture may be available for a loan and must remain in the Ergolab. This includes larger items such as chairs and height-adjustable tables. Equipment can be loaned to the home office.
**Due to size limitations, the Ergolab can accommodate a maximum of 4 visitors during an appointment.**
Industrial ergonomic evaluations encompass a review and analysis of any job task performed outside of the office/computer workstation environment. This includes but is not limited to:
- Laboratory work (pipetting, microscope, etc.)
- Custodial work
- Manual materials handling (lifting, pushing, pulling)
- Animal care & handling
- Shipping & Receiving Operations (mail handling)
- Foodservice & Preparation
Additional Ergonomic Resources
Ergonomics should play a major part of any workplace design, equipment and/or tool design and purchase, space layout, etc. Regardless of the review and assessment of current or future workplaces, workstations, environmental factors (i.e. lighting), equipment or tools, the human factors element should be considered to ensure a mismatch between tools, equipment, workstations and the human who uses them does not create inefficiencies, waste or injury.
With ergonomics design review, an ergonomics specialist will work with the department to evaluate and assess the work environment, tasks, equipment and/or tools and identify as best as possible where ergonomic issues may be present and make suggestions to help minimize injury risk exposure, avoid waste and decrease productivity, improve employee health in the future. The ergonomics specialist will provide and help ensure that ergonomic design guidelines and specifications are considered and implemented as part of the design and/or purchasing process to prevent the need for future modifications because ergonomics principles were not considered in the initial stages.
Implementing ergonomic principles in the design and/or purchase of tools, equipment, workstations, etc. is crucial and will help the department avoid time for re-work and redesign, save funding and keep the workforce at a lower risk for injury.
No formal state or federal requirements are currently in place which require ergonomics to be incorporated into the workplace, however, employers have a responsibility to keep employees safe and free from recognized hazards. Additional information regarding OSHA’s General Duty Clause and the enforcement of ergonomics is as follows:
- An employer has an obligation under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) to keep the workplace free from recognized serious hazards. This includes hazards related to ergonomics.
- OSHA can cite for ergonomic hazards under the General Duty Clause and encourages employers to implement effective programs or other measures to reduce ergonomic hazards and associated musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
The Risk Management and Insurance Ergonomics Program is committed to helping all university departments and their employees identify ergonomic hazards and minimize the risk for injury.
Colorado State University has implemented an ergonomics program in order to decrease work related injuries experienced by its employees as well as to improve the overall health and safety of all faculty and staff members by reducing and/or eliminating risk factors for injury. This is done by identifying specific risk factors and their cause through analysis and evaluation of specific work tasks and workstation setups.