You are here

Ergonomics Factsheet

Introduction

Ergonomics is an applied science which emphasizes the importance of designing workstations (i.e. office furniture or industrial work areas and equipment) so the workstation fits the individual worker. The objective is to "design out" as many ergonomic risk factors as possible in an effort to reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Ergonomics is also referred to as Human Factors.

Online Ergonomic Education

All new and existing UMD's employees are encouraged to take the online Ergonomic Education training. The purpose of the online training is to identify potential ergonomic related problems, recognize ergonomic risk factors, reduce risks by using sound ergonomic work practices and continue improving ergonomic awareness at UMD's computer workstations. The goals of the training are to reduce musculoskeletal disorders, increase worker productivity and performance, decrease worker discomfort and improve the overall quality of the work environment.

UMD's Self Evaluation Checklist

After completing the online Ergonomic Education we recommend completing the two page Self Evaluation Checklist. The Self Evaluation Checklist will assist you in aligning your workstation so it fits you properly. To set up a workstation for optimal comfort and performance, it’s helpful to understand the concept of neutral body posture. Neutral body posture is a comfortable working position in which your joints are naturally aligned. Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, nerves and joints - which can reduce your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder.

Schedule on Ergonomic Evaluation

If you would like to schedule an in person office Ergonomic Evaluation at your workstation contact the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk at (301) 405-3960 or email sgrosser@umd.edu to schedule an appointment.

Applicable Regulations

Regulations specific to ergonomics do not currently exist. OSHA's approach to address ergonomic related injuries occurring in America's workplaces is covered under the General Duty Clause.

Summary of Requirements

The General Duty Clause describes the employer's obligation to "furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." This clause from the OSH Act is utilized to cite serious hazards where no specific OSHA standard exists to address the hazard, as is the case with ergonomic stressors.

When OSHA uses the General Duty Clause to cite an employer, OSHA must demonstrate that: the employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees were exposed, the hazard was causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm, the hazard was recognized, and a feasible means of abatement for that hazard exists.

OSHA has a four-pronged comprehensive approach to ergonomics designed to quickly and effectively address musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace. The four segments of OSHA's strategy for reducing injuries and illnesses from MSDs in the workplace are: Guidelines (develop task-specific), enforcement under (General Duty Clause), outreach and assistance and National Advisory Committee (identify gaps in research to the application of ergonomics and ergonomic principles in the workplace). For more information go to: OSHA website

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax No.    (301) 314-9294
ESSR Website: https://www.essr.umd.edu
University Health Center (Occupational Health) (301) 314-8172

Written 5/98
Reviewed 10/13