Ergonomics – The ABCs

  1. Study the person
  2. Study the job or task
  3. Design the environment so the person and the job/task fit together

Definitions and Scope

Ergonomics” is the science of relating people, their work, and their physical work environment in such a way as to optimize their work procedures, practices and efficiency while maintaining their health and well-being.

A “Workstation” is any work area where an employee works or may work during the course of normal CSB|SJU/OSB activities.

Work-related musculoskeletal (WMSDS) disorders occur when there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the human body. More than 100 different injuries can result from repetitive motions that produce wear and tear on the body. Back pain, wrist tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome may all stem from work-related overuse. Specific risk factors associated with WMSDs include repetitive motion, heavy lifting, forceful exertion, contact stress, vibration, awkward posture and rapid hand and wrist movement.

This guidance document is written to ensure that all College of Saint Benedict and Order of Saint Benedict (CSB|OSB) employees are provided with the information and assistance necessary to minimize workplace accidents and injuries that may be related to poor ergonomic design.

Program Administration

The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)
The EHS is responsible for coordinating ergonomic workstation evaluations. EHS works closely with individual employee and the department and seeks expert consultation when necessary, to provide timely evaluations. 

Medical Evaluation
Employees, who suffer from injuries and illnesses attributed to the poor ergonomic design of their workstations, will follow the medical consultation procedure for occupationally related injuries set for each campus.

Equipment Purchasing
Individual departments will coordinate with the purchasing office, the recommended ergonomically correct tools and office equipment. Occasional purchase of new or other work equipment that has been designed to improve the ergonomic features of the workstation may be recommended as part of workstation evaluation. The cost for the purchase of recommended equipment shall be the responsibility of the individual department or office where the affected employee(s) work.

Newly established offices or departments and those that are undergoing renovations where new office equipment will be purchased should coordinate with the Physical Plant, provide appropriate information and make inquiries to ensure procurement of ergonomically appropriate equipment.  

Guide to purchase of Sit‐Stand office work‐station at the College of St. Benedict Campus

Employees with Ergonomic-Related Work Injuries or Illnesses
Employees who may have injuries or illnesses caused by workstations with poor ergonomic design must obtain a medical evaluation from Occupational Health Clinic. After the medical evaluation, the employee should conduct the supervisor for an ergonomic workstation evaluation and information.

Employees with Potential Ergonomic Concerns
Employees with potential concerns should request their supervisor for workstation evaluation.

Training and Awareness
Online training is offered and accessible from the EHS website. Individuals requesting workstation evaluation recommended by healthcare provider or because of an ergonomic-related workplace injury, will be required to complete online training as part of their evaluation. All other employees are encouraged to review the available information and take online training to stay proactive.

Post Injury Therapy and Rehabilitation
Business office and or Human resources office will coordinate with the treating Clinic the appropriate therapy and rehabilitation to CSB/SJU/OSB employee.

High-Risk Work Areas
Areas of the CSB/SJU/OSB demonstrating high numbers of work-related injuries shall be deemed “high risk” and shall be evaluated proactively in an effort to reduce the number of work-related injuries in these areas. The EHS and the Safety committee shall coordinate with the affected office or department, an appropriate means to control and minimize the hazards.