This policy is designed to formally and systematically control the potential for incidence and severity of ergonomic disorders. It establishes a process for hazard identification, prevention and control, training and education.


  1. The College of St. Benedict, St. John's University and Order of St. Benedict (Institutions) will implement an effective program to promote employee well-being that addresses ergonomic issues.
  2. All employees will receive information related to and including department specific ergonomics program at the time of orientation.
  3. Each division/Department will work to prevent or minimize identified ergonomic hazards and respond to related illnesses.
    1. Breaks- High repetition tasks or jobs that require long periods of static posture may require several, short rest breaks (micro breaks or rest pauses). During these breaks users should be encouraged to stand, stretch, and move around. This provides rest and allows the muscles enough time to recover.
    2. Purchases of institutions equipment and furniture will be made with regard to addressing ergonomic factors and with reasonable flexibility to accommodate successive use of the equipment/furniture.
    3. Furniture and equipment purchased to specifically address an individual employee's ergonomic needs will be transferred with the employee in the event of transfer within the department or within the campus.
  4. It will be the responsibility of each employee to report discomfort, pain, illness that may be related to an ergonomic hazard.
    1. When ergonomic pain and discomfort are reported, a qualified assessor will evaluate the workplace and work activities to determine the cause and recommend ergonomic solutions.
    2. When recommendations are made with respect to correcting specific ergonomic hazards, the affected employee and supervisor will respond to the recommendations in a timely manner by developing and implementing a strategy to carry out the agreed upon actions.

It will be the responsibility of supervisors to take ergonomics into account in planning and supervising employees' work activities.


  • Breaks - changes in activity that alter posture, muscle groups used, focal lengths (for reading or computer usages), or short periods of exercise or stretching.
  • Discomfort - unpleasant musculoskeletal sensations arising from the nature of an employee's work, which are of such strength as to noticeable but do not rise to the level to be considered pain (see definition of pain-below).
  • Ergonomics - a multi-disciplinary activity dealing with the interactions between people and their total working environment.
  • Ergonomic Hazards - workplace conditions that involve an improper fit between the employee and the work due to faulty workstation design, improper work methods, improper tools, excessive vibration, improper job design, and other biomechanical stresses to the employee.
  • Ergonomic Risk Factors - conditions that can result in musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), such as repetition, awkward static loading, vibration, forces/weight, environmental conditions, mechanical contact stress, and lack of employee controlled pace.
  • Hot Spots - reported instances of discomfort or pain that may have resulted from an ergonomic hazard.
  • Illness - a diseased condition arising gradually from the nature of the employee's work, excluding all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed outside of the employment.
  • Individual Ergonomic Need- Request made by a qualified healthcare provider for a unique furnishing outside of the standard provided by the institutions.
  • MSD - an injury or disorder of the muscle, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, blood vessels, or related soft tissue including a sprain, strain, or inflammation, that usually arises from repeated biomechanical stress due to work-related ergonomic hazards. (Also referred to as Cumulative Trauma Disorders, Repetitive Strain Injuries, and/or Repetitive Trauma Disorders.)
  • Pain - unpleasant musculoskeletal sensations arising from the nature of an employee's work, which are of such strength to interfere with the performance of work and/or normal activities.


  1. The Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) will be responsible for the overall Ergonomics Program and shall assist its implementation by:
    1. Developing general operating procedures for the implementation of this policy.
    2. Assist with technical advice and consultative support to Department.
    3. Identifying qualified assessors available to serve the departments.
    4. Overseeing the implementation of the program by periodic follow ups.
  2. The Supervisor (Director, Chairs) will be responsible for the full implementation of the Ergonomics Program at the department, by:
    1. Authorizing identified personnel to participate in workstation assessments as needed.
    2. Providing resources to address ergonomic pain and discomfort prevention and identified hot spots.
    3. Enforcing the requirements of this policy and associated procedures.
    4. Developing specific operating procedures, incorporating the general procedures if deemed necessary.
  3. Each supervisor will:
    1. Ensure, upon becoming aware of an employee reporting ergonomic workstation issues, that the proper notification is submitted.
    2. Upon issuance of the ergonomic assessment, confer with the affected employee to develop a strategy for the implementation of the recommendations within that assessment.
    3. Implement each developed strategy and ensure the employee's compliance.
    4. Ensuring that each employee receives the time necessary to complete training.
  4. Each employee will:
    1. Report ergonomic pain and discomfort to his/her supervisor in a timely manner.
    2. Cooperate with the resulting ergonomic assessment.
    3. Cooperate with the supervisor in developing a strategy to implement the assessment recommendations and comply with that strategy.
    4. Complete required training.

Online Basic awareness training is available to all employees and is a part required for the completion of requested workstation evaluation.

Employees who do not have adequate Information to recognize ergonomic hazards or understand effective work practices designed to reduce these hazards are at a greater risk of harm. For example, users who do not understand the risk of bad body postures or techniques do not have the knowledge to actively participate in their own protection. Delays in recognition and reporting can result in more severe injury.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Computer Workstation

OSHA's Ergonomic Guidelines for Nursing Homes
Mayo Clinic