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UNIVERSITY MAIL MANAGERS ASSOCIATION. MAY 19 – 21 2004 UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI COLUMBIA MO. Ergonomics in the Workplace. Presented By John P. Golding Superintendent NVCC – P&DS. Prepared By: Commonwealth of Virginia Office of Workers’ Compensation.

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university mail managers association


MAY 19 – 21 2004



ergonomics in the workplace

Ergonomics in the Workplace

Presented By

John P. Golding



prepared by commonwealth of virginia office of workers compensation
Prepared By:Commonwealth of VirginiaOffice of Workers’ Compensation
  • Michelle Allen, Return to Work Coordinator
  • Kristie McClaren, Loss Control Specialist
ergo is coming
ERGO is Coming!!!!!
  • As of this moment in time there are no OSHA regulations pertaining to Ergonomics in our postal industry

BUT As of this past April 4, 2003:

OSHA, in conjunction with the USPS and two (2) Postal Workers Unions have formed a joint task force on Ergonomics in postal operations at ten (10) test sites through the US

ergonomic regulations it s a matter of when not if
ERGONOMIC REGULATIONSIt’s a matter of “when” not if

Upon the completion of the Joint Task Force project on Ergonomics in the USPS operations.

  • Regulations to this effect will be written.
  • These Ergonomic Standards will be in the law.
  • When it impacts the operations of the United States Postal Service
  • You can be assured that it will have an impact our College & University Postal Operations.
osha effective ergonomics strategy for success
OSHA Effective Ergonomics: Strategy for Success

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:

National Advisory Committees

Outreach and Assistance



  • OSHA will develop industry or task-specific guidelines for a number of industries based on the current incident rates and available information about effective and feasible solutions
  • What are Musculoskeletal Disorders and Cumulative Trauma Injuries?
  • What is Ergonomics and How can it help prevent MSD’S?
  • Ergonomics Assessments
  • Workstation Ergonomics
  • Proper Lifting
  • Stretching
  • Proactive Ergonomics
  • Return to work issues/ Assistive Technology
national statistics
National Statistics
  • According to Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • In 1997 there were 276,000 cumulative trauma disorders reported in the workforce.
  • More than 620,000 lost work days due to Musculoskeletal disorders each year.
  • MSD’s + 34% of all lost work day injuries and illnesses.
  • $1 out of every $3 spent on workers’ comp claims goes to MSD’s ($15 – 20 Billion)
          • Dr. Michael McDonald - VCU
musculoskeletal disorders
Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Stress to muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage or spinal discs beyond their ability to recover.
  • Not typically the result of any specific event, but rather from gradual onset.
  • Range from mild and intermittent to debilitating and chronic.
  • Strains and sprains are most common type of MSD.
          • CDC-NIOSH
common workplace msd s
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome




Shoulder Impingement

Strains & sprains

Neck & back pain



Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Common Workplace MSD’s
cumulative trauma disorders a k a repetitive strain injuries
Cumulative Trauma Disorders[A.K.A. Repetitive Strain Injuries]
  • Caused by:
    • Repetitive motions of the affected body part and also can have environmental and internal risk factors {Carpal Tunnel Syndrome}
    • Performing tasks of reaching, grasping, pinching, typing.ect.
Fatigue or pain







Decreased Range of Motion

Decreased Grip Strength

Loss of Function

Loss of Balance





Loss of Color

Change in Skin Temperature


when to suspect msd s
When to Suspect MSD’s


* Goes away with rest

* Gets worse while performing an activity.

* Gets better when the activity is avoided.

so what is ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of fitting the work environment to the capabilities of

the worker.

how can an ergonomics program help
How Can an Ergonomics ProgramHELP?
  • Decrease risk of injury and illness
  • Enhance productivity
  • Improve quality of work life.
ergonomic assessment
Ergonomic Assessment
  • Attending physician or physical therapist writes a prescription for an ergonomic assessment of the work area OR an employee requests a change in work station due to discomfort/pain.
  • The evaluator measures the physical demands and essential functions of the position along with the work area.
  • The evaluator can make modifications to the physical demands/worksite to promote the work as therapy model{lifting, twisting, reaching, bending, stooping, ect.
reason for ergonomic assessment
Reason for ErgonomicAssessment
  • Attending physician will not release the employee to work due to the worksite.
  • Attending physician has released the employee but the work is impacting recovery.
  • Attending physician has released the employee to a new work area.
  • Employee has complaints of musculoskeletal nature.
beginning the process
Beginning the Process
  • What are the essential/marginal functions of the positions?
  • What does the employee need in order to perform the essential functions of the position?
  • What is the nature of the employee’s injury?
  • What are the employee’s current physical capabilities?
  • Can assistive technology/ergonomics meet these need?
  • What is the most cost-effective solution?
what are the tasks



Receipt and processing of incoming US Mail.

1. Push & pull loaded and empty USPS 6 wheel canvas mail carts, 85 / 90# tare weight empty or loaded up to 450# from or to the receivingdock and postal center, distance of 50’

2. Lift mail tubs & trays (max 40#) up to out of canvas mail cart from height of 6”at the base to a height of 45” to clear the cart and load.

3. Carry the above mailtubs & trays to sort table place at height of 30”. Pick up out of the same mail carts cartons of books with a weights up 70#, place these cartons on the floor in the postal distribution staging area,.

4. Sort mail, twist, turn, reach, bend, stretch & toss mail from letters to books (3#) from tubs and trays on the sorting table into delivery tubs locatedon racks at three different heights. Bottom Row clearance height of distribution tubs:



1.       Basic Receiving:

Open doors, set hydraulic dock leveler, obtain freight bill, secure required material handling

equipment for the type of load.

Hand Truck, Pallet Jack, Powered Pallet Jack or Forklift.

2. Palletized load:

Use stand-up forklift,requires use of both hands, right hand to operate controls, left & right hand to steer. and left foot on break pedal, must maneuver your head and body to see over, around or under the load to pick-up, maneuver, and secure the load into position orwarehouse operation area.

Use Power Pallet Jack, requires use of both hands to operate controls to pick-up, move and secure the load in the warehouse operation area.

Pallet Jack, same as above, but you must physically do the pushing or pulling of the jack and load, to move it from the delivering vehicle into the warehouse operations area.

3.       Small Item Receiving:

UPS, FedEx, Vendors and other small deliveries. Stoop and check items presented.

What are the Tasks?
workstation ergonomics
Workstation Ergonomics
  • Avoid overcrowded work stations.
  • Organize desktops so that frequently used items are within easy reach.
  • Avoid twisting the body or neck while using a computer.
  • Monitor top just below eye level
  • Avoid glare on monitor screen.
  • Hands and wrists in “Neutral” position.
  • Desktop 3 to 5 inches above thighs.
  • Footrests, gel wrist rests for comfort.
  • Take stretch breaks.
mail operations special concerns
Mail Operations Special Concerns
  • Length of Time Spent Standing
  • Specific Job Task – Lifting, Stretching, Pushing, Pulling, Sitting, Typing.
  • Measurements of the workstation.
  • Weight of mail and equipment used.
  • Repetitive movement, especially backs and upper bodies.
  • Ingress/Egress Hazards.
what to do
What to Do?
  • Provide safety/ergonomics training on the 1st day of work and 2 to 4 times per year thereafter.
  • Rotate employees frequently and allow for breaks and exercises.
  • Practice good housekeeping.
  • Use Powered Industrial Trucks to move bulk mail containers and all purpose containers.
top 5 body parts
Top 5 Body Parts
  • Lumbar Spine
  • Wrist/Hand
  • Shoulder
  • Knee
  • Neck
back impairment
Back Impairment
  • #1 workplace safety problem according to OSHA
  • 2% of all Americans have back impairments
  • 80% of all Americans will experience back impairments during their existence.
  • Performing tasks of lifting, carrying, placing, holding or lowering can contribute to back impairments
lumbar strain
Lumbar Strain
  • Definition: Stretching of muscles in lumbar region
  • Treatment: Rest for 24 – 48 house, anti-inflammatory medications, return to transitional duty, physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation:
    • Mild – 1 week
    • Moderate –1 to 3 weeks
    • Severe – 6 to 12 weeks
wrist sprain
Wrist Sprain
  • Definition: Stretching of ligaments in wrist. Can involve more than one ligament.
  • Treatment: Casting, taping, PT, surgery
  • Rehabilitation: Depends on diagnosis
    • Grade I – No functional Impairment, tearing of fibers ( 2 to 6 weeks)
    • Grade II – Rupture of ligament, functional loss (6 to 8 weeks)
    • Grade III – Complete ligament rupture or separation from bone {Surgery} – (8 to 10 weeks)
shoulder injuries
Shoulder Injuries
  • Definition: Shoulder impingement Syndrome – can include bursitis, tendonitis, rotator cuff swelling or tearing
  • Treatment: PT, medications, cortisone medications, arthroscopy surgery
  • Rehabilitation: Careworks Acute Healing Guidelines
    • Mild Shoulder Strain – 1 week
    • Moderate Shoulder Strain – 1 to 3 weeks
    • Severe Shoulder Strain – 3 to 6 weeks
    • Partial Rotator Cuff Tear – 6 to 8 weeks
    • Complete Rotator Cuff Tear – 3 to 6 months
knee contusions
Knee Contusions
  • Definition: meniscal tear most often/also common are Medial collateral sprains (Grades I – II & III)
  • Treatment: Ice, Physical therapy and surgery
  • Rehabilitation:
    • Mild knee strain – 1 week
    • Moderate – 1 t 3 weeks
    • Severe – 3 to 6 weeks
    • Meniscal Partial Tear – 3 to 4 weeks
    • Meniscal Complete Tear – 6 to 8 weeks
neck strain
Neck Strain
  • Definition: Stretching ligaments in neck area – whiplash
  • Treatment: Traction, PT, anti-inflammatory medications, rest, surgery
  • Rehabilitation:
    • Grade I – tearing of some ligaments (2to 6 weeks)
    • Grade II – Rupture of a ligament portion (6 to 8 weeks)
    • Grade III – Complete rupture of a ligament (8 to 10 weeks)
lifting techniques
Lifting Techniques
  • Basic Lift
  • Power Lift
  • Tripod Lift
  • Partial Squat Lift
  • Golfer’s Lift
  • Pivot Technique
lifting materials
Lifting Materials
  • Reduce the lifting load if possible
  • Utilize grips on the containers which allow the object to be close to the body
  • Convert the lifting to a push/pull motion
  • Utilize mechanized equipment to lift the materials
          • Elements of Ergonomics/Programs/NIOSH
pushing pulling
Pushing / Pulling
  • Eliminate the push/pull motion with mechanical assistance
  • Reduce the force required to push/pull
  • Reduce the distance of the push/pull
  • Use a push rather than a pull
          • Elements of Ergonomics/Programs/NIOSH
repetitive motion with hands wrists
Repetitive Motion withHands / Wrists
  • Reduce repetitions
  • Reduce force / pressure
  • Avoid reaching more than 15 inches
  • Utilize tools/equipment with limited vibration
  • Avoid extreme temperatures
          • Elements of Ergonomics/Programs/NIOSH
whole body hand arm vibration
Whole-Body & Hand/ArmVibration
  • Can Cause:
  • Blurred Vision
  • Decrease in manual coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Low back pain
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches or upset stomach
          • US-DH&HS-CDC
being proactive
Being Proactive
  • Design tasks, work spaces, controls, displays, tools, lighting and equipment to eliminate potential injuries BEFORE they happen
  • Education
  • Safety Culture
  • Management Commitment
ada assistive technology
ADAAssistive Technology
  • Defined in Technology Act of 1988 as “Devices, services, and systems used to enhance, maintain, or improve the function or performance of people with disabilities.”
  • Or, better known as items which allow a person with a disability to work, live and play in their community setting.
fitting the worker to the job
Fitting the Worker to the Job
  • When researching Assistive Technology, look at each individual on a case-by-case basis.
  • Remember, not everyone will need Assistive Technology to meet their needs even though they have the same medical condition.
work related injuries
Work-related Injuries
  • Employer can suggest assistive technology based on employee’s physical limitations.
  • Employer can suggest assistive technology based on the employee’s position description and essential functions.
  • Employer will promote “Work as Therapy” model
  • Employer can include ergonomic issues: seating, utilizing desktop, ect.
job accommodation network
Job Accommodation Network
  • 80% of job accommodations cost less than $500.00
  • Assumptions about technology:
    • Can be cost effective – even at no cost.
    • Reduces injuries / re-injury / strain
    • Increases safety for employees
    • Allows persons with disabilities to participate in the work area
sample accommodations
Sample Accommodations
  • Provide an ergonomically correct chair to an employee with a back injury - $400
  • Provide hand controls on an automobile for a worker who has use of one arm - $150
  • Provide a headset to an employee with a neck injury - $50
  • Provide an adaptive lawnmower to a maintenance worker with paraplegia - $800
  • Provide a “Buddy” to assist with lifting - $0