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frequently asked questions

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frequently asked questions about ergonomics

Why would ergonomics matter to my business?

An Ergonomic analysis effectively identifies any health and safety risks, including those associated with repetitive work and manual handing and leads to solutions that minimize or avoid the risk. The solutions can be in the form of physical design changes, job design changes or simply staff training.

For manufactures, ergonomics analysis can bring efficiencies and quality improvements to production lines, while at the same time enhancing the health and safety of employees.

Isn't ergonomics just common sense?

No. Unfortunately, common sense is not so common. You only have to consider the number of poorly designed products which exist and the number of workplace injuries to realize that.

If I requested an Ergonomic Evaluation, what should I expect?

An ergonomic consultant would visit your work site and study/observe the way in which the employees are using products and equipment, as well as how they are providing services. Employees would also be interviewed and pictures taken of the work station. A written report would be issued providing recommendations. If your company accepts the recommendations, the consultant could also assist in the implementation of the recommendations. Throughout this process, employees are instructed in proper body mechanics, etc.

Isn't Ergonomics just applicable to the computer user?

No, ergonomics needs to be considered in the design of virtually any product, system or environment. Failure to do so may lead to designs or procedures which are either inefficient or unsafe.

For example, The Ergonomics Society (UK) reported that researchers compared the relative positions of the controls on a lathe with the size of an average male worker. It was found that the lathe operator had to stoop and move from side to side to operate the lathe controls. An "ideal" sized person to fit the lathe would be just 4.5 feet tall, 2 feet across at the shoulders and have an arm span of 8 feet.

One of the goals of ergonomics is to design jobs to fit people. For many years now, we have expected our employees to accommodate themselves to their equipment, a probable cause of the majority of cumulative trauma injuries.


Can you give me an example of an ergonomic solution?

Yes. The following was recently posted on the web site under "Success with Ergonomics".

Problem - A Montgomery, Pennsylvania employer had boxes of PVC slats for vertical blinds weighing 75 to 15 pounds that were manually slid into bulk racks for storage, resulting in approximately 24 compensable shoulder, arm, neck, and back injuries per year.

Solution - The Company developed a bulk rack system with miniature rollers and guided slots for each carton, allowing boxes to be slid into position with considerable less effort.

The Impact: In the past year, there has not been a single compensable injury from performing the material handling task.

What are MSD, CTD, RMI and RSI?

  • MSD
    Musculoskeletal Disorder
  • CTD
    Cumulative Trauma Disorder
  • RMI
    Repetitive Motion Injury
  • RSI
    Repetitive Strain Injury

These terms are all interchangeable and refer to the wear and tear on the tendons, muscles, and sensitive nerve tissue caused by continuous use over an extended period of time.

Did you know that Cal/OSHA mandates that employers design programs to minimize RMI's? These programs should include a Worksite Evaluation, Control of Exposures which have caused the RMI's and Employee Training.

What are some of the warning signs of RMI's?

  • Weakness in the forearms and hands, fatigue or lack of endurance
  • Difficulty using hands, lack of control or coordination, clumsiness
  • Cold hands or hypersensitivity
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation
  • Pain, difficulty opening and closing hands, stiffness

Are Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics the same?

Yes. Authoritative sources, such as The Ergonomics Society and the Oxford English Dictionary, confirm that the two words are interchangeable.

Hughes Occupational Consultants
  363 South Indian Hill Blvd.
  Claremont CA 91711
  Phone (909) 625-7406
  Fax (909) 621-3742
  email HOC
   making today's work environment more people-friendly


2007 hughes occupational consultants

updated 22-Feb-2007