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Ergonomics

University work stations and job sites come in many different sizes, shapes, and resources. The intent of the MU ergonomic program is to meet the changing need of University employees. Today the word ergonomics is used to describe the science of "designing the job to fit the worker, not forcing the worker to fit the job."

Ergonomics covers all aspects of a job, from physical stress placed on joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, bones, and the like, to environmental factors that effect hearing, vision, and general comfort and health.

Physical stressors include repetitive motion such as those caused by typing or continual use of a manual screwdriver. Other physical stressors could be tasks involving vibration such as using a jackhammer, or tasks which involve using excessive force, such as lifting boxes of heavy books. Working in an awkward position, such as holding a telephone to your ear with your shoulder, can also cause problems.

Repetitive motions, vibration, excessive force, and awkward positions are frequently linked to ergonomic disorders; however, the majority of "Cumulative Trauma Disorders" (CTDs), Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), or "Repetitive Strain Injuries" (RSIs), are caused by repetitive motions that would not result in undue stress or harm if only performed once. Carpal tunnel syndrome, Tendonitis, Tenosynovitis, DeQuarvain's Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, many back injuries, and several other conditions may result from repetitive motions.

Environmental factors could include such things as indoor air quality or excessive noise. Headaches, congestion, fatigue and even rashes can result from poor air quality in a building or office. Excessive noise around heavy machinery or equipment can cause permanent hearing loss. Improper lighting can cause eyestrain and headaches, especially in conjunction with a computer monitor.

It is important to listen to the signals your body gives you. If you suffer pain in the wrists or hands after a long day of typing, examine your work area and practices. Learn to make adjustments. Raise or lower chairs to avoid typing with your wrists at an odd angle. Adjust computer monitors to avoid glare. Take frequent breaks from repetitive tasks to give your body a rest. Always use proper lifting techniques. Sometimes small modifications to work procedures, posture, habits, and work station design can make a big difference in the way you feel at the end of the day.

 
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