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Ergonomics

Ergonomics

Ergonomics

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the study of how to improve the fit between the physical demands of the workplace and the employees who perform the work. That means considering the variability in human capabilities when selecting, designing, or modifying equipment, tools, work tasks, and the work environment. Employees’ abilities to perform physical tasks may vary because of differences in age, physical condition, strength, gender, stature, and other factors.

What are the hazards associated with ergonomics?

Increased physical demands on workers due to awkward work postures, repetitive and forceful motions, and vibration can lead to the development of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

What are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)?

MSDs include injuries to the nerves, tendons, muscles and supporting structures of the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck and low back.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Workers should try to take breaks to allow soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) to rest throughout the day. Changing the work area or process to improve posture, reduce force or limit repetition can reduce stress on the body.  Additionally, rotating to another task that involves use of a different motion or body part can help if done correctly.

What resources are available to assist employers?

An ergonomics presentation is available to assist employers in training their staff. The presentation should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards.

In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

 

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

There are no OSHA or N.C. occupational safety and health standards for ergonomics. In certain circumstances, ergonomic hazards may be cited using N.C. General Statute 95-129(1), commonly referred to as the “General Duty Clause.”

 

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.