Ergonomics refers to the compatibility between the employee and his/her physical workplace.  Poor ergonomic conditions exist when the physical work environment affects the employee's ability to perform work comfortably and without physical injury.  Poor ergonomic conditions contribute to employee discomfort, fatigue and physical injury.  Injury related to poor ergonomic conditions can be prevented by designing the physical work environment around the physical needs of individual employees.

Injuries resulting from poor ergonomic conditions are collectively known as musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) or repetitive strain injuries (RSI). The causes of these injuries are prolonged repetitive movements, forceful movements and awkward body postures. RSIs are painful and potentially disabling injuries which primarily affect the wrists, back, legs, shoulders, neck, muscles and joints.

Repetitive strain injuries may result from: fixed or constrained postures that are frequently awkward and maintained for extended periods of time; repetitive hand movements; or fast-paced movements that do not allow sufficient time for recovery from the effects of these movements.

Reducing Injury

The Safety Office can provide informative literature on methods for reducing injury and physical discomfort in the workplace. Contact the Department of Human Resources and Organizational Development for advice on obtaining assessment of workstations.