Ergonomic Assessmentof the IT DepartmentPaulo DavilaAaron D’souzaAaron Doperalski
Table of ContentsGoals and Objectives........................................................................................
Appendix A ..................................................................................................................
Goals and Objectives       Ergonomics is defined as the study of human machine interactions and improving thoseinteraction...
execute tasks efficiently and safely. If the Personnel are injured due to being exposed tonumerous risks of injury, their ...
SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), they can provide any additional information on how to improvework execution, such as: work ...
Job Description:Student technician will provide frontline support of faculty and students in labs and classrooms. Key duti...
Restrictions       Unfortunately, we were unable to create a meeting with management due to conflictamong our schedules an...
Each question was created based on the information we were looking for. We integratedquestions with a rating system to gai...
were in charge of organization, they let the “on-the-field” employees take care of it. He statedthat hardware and workplac...
Assessment                                       Entrance Interview          Before beginning the assessment, we interview...
This entrance interview gave us the perspective of the employee. Based on theemployee’s answers, it became obvious that he...
As stated by the test subject during the interview, the office’s function is to provide anenvironment where most repairs a...
work, and tasks that currently done or being worked on. The employee is unable to remove theseitems because it is unclear ...
The secondary workstation is the high desk, which is directly across the small desk. Afterthe employee is finished with th...
On the picture above, we are able to see the third desk and the exposure of unhealthyworkplace conditions. The primary use...
The second environment the employee is exposed to is the storage unit, which is a smallgarage measuring 25x10 feet. The st...
Physical Demands        One major risk that can occur with a job that deals with manual labor is work-relatedmuscular skel...
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome       CTS is a result from awkward posture, direct compression, or inflammation whenworking at any ...
shelves much higher than shoulder level. This repeated high reaching produces “localizedshoulder pain with tenderness over...
rotational motion due to stiffness. These symptoms can result in an overall lack of effectivenessof the operator due to a ...
Solutions and Implementation                                        General SolutionsKeyboard        One of the easiest wa...
Laptop Use       The general design and concept defies all concepts that are based in ergonomics. This isdue to the theory...
Chair Selection       In order to sit in a chair and maintain a constant positive work performance, a neutralspine positio...
swivel feature before they stand to help reduce strain from awkward standing procedures. Aswell as a 360 degree swivel and...
Visual Angles of Monitors       The visual angle maintained at a desk setting can directly cause injury pertaining to then...
TrainingOrganization       In order to solve the problem of improper lifting and organization we decided to train theopera...
Safe lifting practice       To cut down on LBD we found a set of guidelines to follow in order to safely lift andcarry var...
Exit Interview       The exit interview was created to get information on the worker’s perspective of thesolutions. This i...
The Overall Assessment and Monitoring       The overall assessment was a success due to several reasons. We were able to d...
Works CitedBridger, R. (2009). Introduction to Ergonomics, Third Edition . Boca Raton: CRC Press.Center for Disease Contro...
Smith, A. P. (1992). Handbook of Human Performance, Volume 2. Acedemic Press.Team, N. E. (2007, August ). Guidelines for O...
Appendix AEmployee Survey1. Please rate each from a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest. Theexposu...
Appendix B   Entrance Interview questions:   1.    Can you describe the tasks you go through on a daily basis? (please exp...
Appendix CFigure 1 – demonstrates the interconnection of WMSDs and internal problems that already existRetrieved from:Salv...
Appendix DSafe liftingLifting and carrying is a common cause of injury at work. Good manual handling techniques cansignifi...
improve balance and control                                                         If you have to reach out to the load, ...
Appendix EThe OSHA checklist that we filled out can found immediately following this page.Checklist retrieved from OSHA ch...
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ERAU IT Ergonomic Assessment

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Worked in a 4-person team, directed and guided by Dr. Kring (ERAU professor), to perform an ergonomic assessment of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s IT (Information Technology) department, which followed the OSHA standards and regulations. Performed visual inspection and walkthroughs during active shifts in order to obtain data regarding to unsafe and unhealthy workplace. Redesigned the workplace and train the employees to perform tasks to avoid injuries; this caused us to become acquainted with the human anatomy and the health risks that derived from an unsafe working environment.

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ERAU IT Ergonomic Assessment

  1. 1. Ergonomic Assessmentof the IT DepartmentPaulo DavilaAaron D’souzaAaron Doperalski
  2. 2. Table of ContentsGoals and Objectives..................................................................................................................................... 4Pre-Assessment............................................................................................................................................. 4 Management Survey ................................................................................................................................. 4 Our Ergonomic Committee ................................................................................................................... 5 Job Description...................................................................................................................................... 6 Restrictions ........................................................................................................................................... 8 Employee Survey....................................................................................................................................... 8 Results ................................................................................................................................................... 9 Apparatuses Used ................................................................................................................................... 10Assessment ................................................................................................................................................. 11 Entrance Interview .................................................................................................................................. 11 Walkthrough and Visual Inspection ........................................................................................................ 12 Physical Demands ................................................................................................................................... 18 Work-related Muscle Skeletal Disorders ............................................................................................ 18 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ..................................................................................................................... 19 Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Rotator Cuff Tendinitis ...................................................................... 19 Tension Neck Syndrome ..................................................................................................................... 20 Lower Back Disorders.......................................................................................................................... 20Solutions and Implementation ................................................................................................................... 22 General Solutions .................................................................................................................................... 22 Keyboard ............................................................................................................................................. 22 Laptop Use .......................................................................................................................................... 23 Chair Selection .................................................................................................................................... 24 Visual Angles of Monitors ................................................................................................................... 26 Training ................................................................................................................................................... 27 Organization ........................................................................................................................................ 27 Safe lifting practice ............................................................................................................................. 28 Cost/Benefit Analysis .............................................................................................................................. 28 Exit Interview .......................................................................................................................................... 29 The Overall Assessment and Monitoring ................................................................................................ 30Works Cited ................................................................................................................................................. 31 2 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  3. 3. Appendix A .................................................................................................................................................. 33Appendix B ................................................................................................................................................. 34Appendix C .................................................................................................................................................. 35Appendix D .................................................................................................................................................. 36Appendix E .................................................................................................................................................. 38 3 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  4. 4. Goals and Objectives Ergonomics is defined as the study of human machine interactions and improving thoseinteractions. Ergonomics is concentrated in the interactions between human and machine alongwith the environment. By improving the interactions between these elements, efficiency can beincreased. We will perform a series of analysis to seek and solve any unhealthy conditions. Forthis particular assessment we will be working on the IT department of Embry-RiddleAeronautical University. Pre-Assessment Management Survey The IT department, information technology department, is in charge of fixing or updatingany computer or technological errors within Embry-Riddle’s campus. The IT department iscomposed of “on the field workers”, supervisors, and management (all in that order). The “on thefield workers” are in charge of the manual labor, while the supervisor is in charge of deliveringor implementing any information, news, or changes that management creates. Our ergonomicassessment will concentrate on the “on the field workers”. The reason behind this is due to thefact that these “on the field workers” are exposed to several environments, all creating uniqueindividual problems. Before performing an ergonomic assessment, it is important to know why it is needed. Aswe all know the system is composed of three essential parts: Machine, Personnel, andEnvironment. Without one the system will not function well or at all. The reason behind anergonomic assessment is to improve the Environment for the Personnel and make sure they 4 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  5. 5. execute tasks efficiently and safely. If the Personnel are injured due to being exposed tonumerous risks of injury, their deteriorating health will cause a fatal problem to the system. Ourgoals and objectives for our ergonomics program are to prevent MSD (Muscle SkeletalDisorder), provide efficiency within the work place by eliminating any room for possibleinjuries, providing employee(s) with sufficient knowledge of proper postural techniques whenexecuting a task, and also to improve the overall system for maximum efficiency and decreaseany risk of injury. The following will be evaluated in this assessment: First we will look at MuscularSkeletal Disorders that can be caused from improper methods of task execution and can impactthe efficiency and overall performance of the operator.Then we will assess the workplaceergonomicsof correct posture and visual acuity, as well as keeping things organized so that theyare easily accessible. Also we will look at proper employee task execution and work methodsthat will decrease physical and mental workloads. By doing this we will increase theeffectiveness of the work station and how it is used.Our Ergonomic Committee An Ergonomic Committee should be created to increase awareness of an unhealthyworkplace and the negative consequences along to notify that you will need their co-operation.There are two main groups within the work place that should be alerted and allowed toparticipate in the ergonomics committee. The employees should be in the committee due tovarious reasons. The first reason is to obtain the workers perspective on the system and how it’sran. With this perspective we are able to obtain information that may pertain to any risk of injuryin the system that are naked to the higher-up’s eyes. By knowing any risks of injuries thatemployees are exposed to, we are able to create an ergonomic assessment. The employees are 5 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  6. 6. SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), they can provide any additional information on how to improvework execution, such as: work schedule, essential tools, organization, and positive/negativefeedback on current or past work methods. Supervisors should also be included in the ergonomics committee for very importantreasons. The main reason they should be included is due to their contribution to the system,which affects any one below them in the hierarchy of the work force. They are responsible toenforce the current or new methods to perform tasks, along with communicating the systemprogress and state to their higher-ups. If there is a flaw that is not obvious to the supervisors’eyes, this may put the health and safety of the employees at risk. The importance of theemployees’ health is due to the fact that they are one of the main labor on which the systemworks on. Management should also be included due to the fact they are in charge on the finaldecisions on changes and budget.Job Description The formal job descriptions and requirements, which are created by management, areobtained from the job application on Embry Riddle’s Eagle Hire Network. This information isimportant for several reasons. The first reason behind the importance is to have a formal writtencopy in order to create a comparison of the management’s knowledge of the tasks executed bythe employees against the employees’ report of the actual tasks done. The second reason is afterthe comparison and the Ergonomic Assessment is complete, we will revise this job descriptionand requirements to convey the proper information. The third reason is to use this job descriptionto give us background knowledge in order to create survey questions, interviews, and analysis.Both the job description and requirements will help us evaluate and revise the current IT trainingprograms and organization of the tasks. 6 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  7. 7. Job Description:Student technician will provide frontline support of faculty and students in labs and classrooms. Key duties are toinstall, configure and upgrade operating systems and software, using standard business and administrative packages; may modifyspecific applications for special use. Install, assemble and configure computers, monitors, and peripherals such as printers, scannersand related hardware. Pulls cables and rewires or directs the rewiring of cables as required for new installations and officereconfiguration. Student technician will assess problems with computer systems, including troubleshooting hardware and software,network and peripheral equipment problems; make repairs and corrections where required. Student will assist technical staff withinstallations, setup and troubleshooting of University computing equipment as well as support of computing software applications.Have the ability to work with minimum supervision. Must be able to lift 50 pounds Job duties also entail answering the ITemergency support phone at least 2 hours per week. Various other duties and projects within the department as assigned. OperatingHours extend from 7:30am until 9pm weekdays (M-F). We operate year-round regardless of semester calendars. Availability inbetween semesters is preferred.Job Requirement:Must possess mobility to work in a standard office setting and to use standard office equipment, including acomputer, stamina to maintain attention to detail despite interruptions, strength to lift and carry objects weighing up to 50 pounds.Must possess knowledge of computer hardware, software and peripherals such as monitors, cables, network systems, printers, andplotters; procedures for installing, configuring, upgrading, troubleshooting and repairing applicable software, hardware andperipherals; Techniques for explaining technical concepts and procedures to non-technical users. Freshmen & Sophomore studentshighly encouraged to apply. Must possess good communication and speaking skills. Discretion is an absolute. Windows XP a mustand Linux experience preferred. On the table above, is the formal job description and requirements found on Embry- Riddle’s Eagle Hire Network. Management describes the job by the tasks the employees will have to face and describes the requirements with the workspace the employees will encounter. Reporting the different working environments and task shows that management is aware of the physical standards and working conditions they should maintain. Although they report what equipment the employees will use, there is no description of the structure or organization of the workplace. This brings up the concern if they know that the working conditions are safe. 7 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  8. 8. Restrictions Unfortunately, we were unable to create a meeting with management due to conflictamong our schedules and their busy working schedules. Although we weren’t able to meetmanagement, we were able to set up a meeting with the IT department’s ex-supervisor andcurrent “on the field” employee. This employee worked for the IT department for almost threeyears; he was a supervisor for three semesters and on the field employee for two semesters. Hewas the ideal candidate to perform this assessment on for three reasons: He is not affected by theHawthorne Affect, He is a SME (subject matter expert), and he was the only one willing toparticipate. During our interview he was able to provide us with the information about whomand what are responsible for budget and implementation of changes. He mentioned that thebudget for ergonomic changes are low due to the overall budget of the department is low. Healso informed us that the management is charge of deciding on changes, while the supervisorsare in charge of implementing them. Employee Survey The employee’s survey consists of various questions that are based on the formal jobdescription/requirements, background knowledge of the job, and open questions. This is a vitalpart of the assessment because we will use the results to direct us to the proper analysis weshould use and provide a guideline of what to expect during the visual walk through. Oneimportant aspect of the survey is to that it will provide us with a concrete and abstractperspective of the employee. 8 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  9. 9. Each question was created based on the information we were looking for. We integratedquestions with a rating system to gain abstract information. The rating scale will go through 1 to7 due to that people usually do not go to the extreme low or high but somewhere in between.This helps us distinguish between high and low ratings and moderate ratings. The survey can befound in the Appendix A.Results For the first question of the survey we asked the employee to rate the exposure ofunhealthy and unsafe conditions of the two different workstations (garage and office) from 1 to7, 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest. He rated the office a 3 and the garage a 6. When hewas asked to describe his ratings in the following question, we discovered his perception of workinjuries. He stated that the reason behind the low rating on the office environment was due to thefact he didn’t see any possible injuries besides Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This was insightfulbecause it showed us how management did not expose both the supervisor and “on-the-field”employees of the risk of different workplace injuries. He also explained that he rated the garagehigh due to the muscle strain of lifting objects constantly. The third question asked to rate theneed of technology of each environment based on three choices (Not enough technology, Propertechnology, and Too much technology). This was essential to find out if the exposure of unsafeworking conditions was based on lack or surplus of technology. He answered and explained hischoices for both environments. He answered that there was proper technology on bothenvironments and explained that the needed hardware wasn’t the problem but the organization ofthe workplace. This gave us a guideline on what to expect in our visual and walk throughinspection. On the fifth question he was asked if there were supervisory or managerial causes ofunsafe/unhealthy workplace. He briefly explained that although management and supervisors 9 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  10. 10. were in charge of organization, they let the “on-the-field” employees take care of it. He statedthat hardware and workplace organization was left to the “on-the-field” employees due to thefact that they should make the office suitable to their work and comfort. This creates a problembecause an employee doesn’t always know what the proper method of organization. The lastquestion asked the employee what he would change in the working environments to make ithealthier, happier, and more productive. He answered that organization of tools and hardwareusing labels would be part of his revision. Apparatuses Used For each part of this assessment we prepared ourselves with specific tools according tothe task. These items varied from documents to actual hardware. For the entrance interview, weprepared ourselves by bringing the survey the employee took, a series of close and openquestions for the actual interview, a summary of background knowledge of the job, and astandard paper and pencil. Every item was of important use but the three items that helped usduring our interview process the most were the survey, interview questions, and the summary ofbackground knowledge. This items and their importance of their roles will be described in theinterview portion of this assessment. For the visual inspection of the job a camera, Oshaworkplace checklist, timeline (activity analysis) chart, measuring tape, and writing utensils wereused. Both the camera and the measuring tape were of great use in order to obtain exactmeasurements and capture certain task being executed. 10 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  11. 11. Assessment Entrance Interview Before beginning the assessment, we interviewed our test subject with questions similarto the ones in the survey. The purpose of the entrance interview is to evaluate the employee’s(test subject) knowledge of workplace injuries and proper working stations. It will also provideus with a workers perspective and insight of how the workplace runs. Before we began, weexplained the purpose of the entrance interview and what it is going to consist of. Four open-ended questions are asked during the interview to avoid redundant information that was obtainedthrough the survey; these questions can be found in AppendixB. First, we asked the employee to describe the daily tasks he had to execute. He informedus that the usual daily tasks are manual repairs within the office. The repairs varied fromcomputers to projectors and everything in between, while the length of the repair depends onwhat exactly needed to be repaired. The following question asked the employee to describe anyunsafe working conditions. He only described the physical strains he encountered in the garage(storage unit) and did not mention the office workstation. The physical strains he mentionedwere the constant lifting of heavy objects and the cluster of items on shelves. Afterwards, weasked to explain the role of organization in the workplace. He informed us that the overallorganization of tasks and quotas is a tangled mess and hardware/tool organization was non-existing. He went on explaining that hardware and tools were scattered around the office and thegarage, many of them have no labels. The final question asked the employee to describe anychanges he would change within the workplace. He only stated the change of organization in thegarage. 11 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  12. 12. This entrance interview gave us the perspective of the employee. Based on theemployee’s answers, it became obvious that he was not aware of office injuries besides thecommon carpal tunnel syndrome and lifting injuries. By using this knowledge of the subject wewere able to implement awareness during the solution. The interview also gave us insight onwhat to expect during the visual inspection so we won’t be unprepared. The entrance interviewwas an essential part of this assessment. Walkthrough and Visual Inspection In order to discover any unhealthy working conditions, it was necessary to perform avisual and walk through inspection. When doing a visual and walk through inspection it isessential to come prepared with tools, such as hardware and documents. We prepared ourselveswith an activity chart, a list of activities based on the interview and job description, to expectwhat to encounter during the inspection. We also brought along the OSHA workplace checklist,paper and pencil, a camera, and a measuring tape. There are two environments we will beinspecting: the garage (storage unit) and the office. 12 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  13. 13. As stated by the test subject during the interview, the office’s function is to provide anenvironment where most repairs are done. The office is laid out with three desks, all designatedfor different functions, and it is 25x10 feet. The small desk, as you can see on the picture above,is mainly used for manual labor that last between 5 to 15 minutes. According the activity chart(appendix ???), the majority of the tasks is manual labor. This consists of opening up computers,printers, and projectors and replacing hardware. Usually when performing these tasks theemployee must stand up due to the nature of the task. There are several unhealthy workingconditions on this working station alone. In the picture above, it can clearly be seen that the deskheight (approximately 3 feet in height and 8 feet in length) is too small to execute the task whilestanding up. When performing the task the employee must use the computer to open updocuments (such as manuals, instructional videos, etc.) for guidance. The combination of heightand task requirements creates a conflict due to the screen is not eye level, which will cause theemployee to constantly be hunched over.This exposes the employee to the risks of WMSD,which we will talk about in the following sections of this assessment. Along with theseconditions, not enough workspace is provided to perform the task due to the cluster of objectsscattered on the desk. The scattered items are a combination of obsolete hardware, random paper 13 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  14. 14. work, and tasks that currently done or being worked on. The employee is unable to remove theseitems because it is unclear if it will interfere with any other employees work. Another big issue was the overall organization of the office. The tools needed to executethe tasks were scattered around the offices along with miscellaneous materials. An example isgiven in the picture below, where the tool draws are filled with one or two tools along with pensand books. When looking at the results of the activity charts, there was a pattern of the employeeconstantly getting up and searching throughout the office for the proper tools. This causes theemployee to constantly move heavy objects, such as boxes, around to find the proper tools. Theemployee is then exposed to physical injuries and an increase of mental workload. The task itselfsuffers from time inefficiency. 14 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  15. 15. The secondary workstation is the high desk, which is directly across the small desk. Afterthe employee is finished with the manual tasks, he has to log in the tasks he has executed into theIT database. This roughly takes around 5 minutes to accomplish successfully and with nocomplications. When complications are shown, the employee uses the phones provided tocontact management or other employees. The problem encountered during this process is that thephone is out of arms reach, which could cause muscular injuries. When the employee is requiredto search for written documents, he is force to go through various obstacles, as shown in thepicture below. Another issue is the placements of visuals (such as posters or pinned updocuments) are not within eye level. 15 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  16. 16. On the picture above, we are able to see the third desk and the exposure of unhealthyworkplace conditions. The primary use for this desk is for long manual task and logging in taskswithin the database. When the employee performed a task, he had to constantly twist his bodyand neck to face the screen (on the far right) then twist back to face the manual task (the far left).Tools and posters were above eye level and hand reach. In order to reach tools, which are placedon the top shelf, the employee will need a stool, which is not provided, to be able to successfullysee and get a hold of the tools. The posters and pinned up documents that the employee will needare above and below eye level, which would cause the employee to be unable to obtaininformation. 16 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  17. 17. The second environment the employee is exposed to is the storage unit, which is a smallgarage measuring 25x10 feet. The storage unit is composed of one shelf that contains labeledboxes. Although the toolboxes are labeled, it is hard to reach due to boxes and random objectsblocking the shelves. When searching for tools the employee must first move the heavy objectsaround in order to reach the shelves. As seen in the picture above, the various objects on the floorcannot be organized for several reasons. The first reason is that there are no labels on the objects,making it hard to distinguish the current tasks to the obsolete hardware. The second reason is ifan employee reorganizes the objects it might interfere with another employees current or futuretask. The interference can be caused by accidently eliminating hardware that is currently workedon. 17 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  18. 18. Physical Demands One major risk that can occur with a job that deals with manual labor is work-relatedmuscular skeletal disorders (WMSD). The Department of Defense states that these types ofdisorders generally “are caused by repeated stress to the body from risk factors in the workplace” (DoD2008, Sept). These factors include posture, repetition, force, long durations of tasks, contact stress,temperature, and vibration, as well as being interconnected with already prevalent problems a person mayhave as seen in Figure 1 (Appendix C). This figure shows how people who perform heavy physicallabor are subjected not only to forces and stresses from immediate physical environment, butalso to “mechanical forces generated within the body” (Salvendy 821). These external andinternal forces can combine together to create certain WMSDs that can impact all aspects of aperson life and their effectiveness at their work station.Work-related Muscle Skeletal Disorders As defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention WMSDs “aremusculoskeletal disorders (injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage,and spinal discs) in which the work environment and performance of work contributesignificantly to the condition; and/or the condition is made worse or persists longer due to workconditions” (Center for Disease Control). These disorders include a wide range of problems thatoverall effect the health and well being of the worker, as well as their performance while on thejob. After reviewing the OSHA checklist (found in Appendix E) and visual walkthrough we sawsome of the more relevant WMSDs connected to our specific evaluation include Carpal TunnelSyndrome (CTS), Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), Rotator Cuff Tendinitis (RCT), TensionNeck Syndrome (TNS), and Lower Back Disorders (LBD). 18 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  19. 19. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome CTS is a result from awkward posture, direct compression, or inflammation whenworking at any of the workstations. Typing, fixing computers, and filling out forms are just a fewexamples of processes that can inflame this disorder. These factors can cause the median nerve toreceive damage. This condition can lead to permanent damage if not treated properly or in atimely fashion. Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include burning pain, numbness,and a tingling sensation. This type of injury is very common in office setting workplaces due tothe use of computers, mainly mice and keyboards (DoD 2008, Nov).Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Rotator Cuff Tendinitis TOS and RCT are both linked with repetitive motion of the arm or shoulder, but whileTOS is just performing a menial task frequently RCT is caused by motions made above shoulderlevel. TOS is an issue that we saw from observing the participant operating at all threeworkstations, especially the medium and small sized desks. The lack of leg space under the smalldesk makes is so the operator has to repeatedly reach for various items, such as keyboard, phone,tools, etc. increasing stress in Thoracic Outlet region (upper chest and shoulder area). Also thestructural redundancies at the medium desk, such as multiple screens and keyboards that have tobe used, make it so there is repeated stretching, again putting stress on this region. TOS canresult in “pain, early fatigue, tingling, or parathesthesias” (Hagberg) radiating from the hand tothe shoulder. Similarly, RCT is caused by this type of reaching and stretching above shoulderlevel. This is seen particularly when the operator is working at the medium desk and has to reachthe higher shelves for tools necessary to perform the job. Also, this is a risk in the garage whenretrieving items it is necessary to strain this area reaching for heavy computers and equipment on 19 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  20. 20. shelves much higher than shoulder level. This repeated high reaching produces “localizedshoulder pain with tenderness over the humeral head” (Hagberg) or rotary cuff causing stiffnessand a lack of motion. Having symptoms from both of these disorders can cause a lack ofalertness and a drop in efficiency and reaction time.Tension Neck Syndrome On the other hand TNS is caused from a lack of motion and constant straining of neckand upper back muscles. This is a risk when working at the high and medium desk because it isnecessary to constantly pay attention to diagrams and monitors elevated beyond eye level. Thisconstant strain can result in “pain in the shoulder or neck in addition to tenderness over thedescending part of the trapezius [upper back/neck] muscle” (Hagberg). This, again, can cause aslow in reaction time and efficiency due to the operator having to slow their motions because ofstiffness.Lower Back Disorders The most prevalent problem that can be seen in the work station we are assessing is LBD.This disorder is caused by heavy lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing, pulling, holding andrepetitively bending over, which can be seen through studies that indicate “that lifting and MMH[Manual Materials Handling] account for 50 to 75% of all back injuries” (Salvendy 820). A largepart of this particular job is a need to pick up materials that weigh up to 50lbs and transportingthem across campus. This alone causes a great deal of tension in the lower back, but there is alsothe factor that at the small desk a large amount of time is spent hunched over because theycannot effectively operate while sitting down. The characteristics of this disorder are sharpshooting pain in the lower thoracic and lumbar areas of the back, as well as restriction of 20 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  21. 21. rotational motion due to stiffness. These symptoms can result in an overall lack of effectivenessof the operator due to a lack of ability to perform the tasks necessary and may result in loss ofjob. Besides the fact that these disorders create pain for the operator and make it harder for themto efficiently do their job they can also create a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) because ofincreased work load on the operator. CFS is characterized as creating “muscle fatigue, mentalfatigue, depression, viral infections, behavior problems, and impairments in attention and motorfunctions” (Smith 261). If this disorder is formed it becomes not only a problem in the workenvironment but also is an extreme health hazard that can seriously affect a user’s personal life.In this assessment we will try to make is so we can decrease a users work load so as to decreasetheir chance of creating WMSDs and in the long run stop CFS from happening. 21 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  22. 22. Solutions and Implementation General SolutionsKeyboard One of the easiest ways to counteract the effects of Muscular Skeletal Disorders in anoffice setting is to use ergonomic devices that assist in relieving the strain previously caused. Forexample, ergonomic keyboards can be purchased to help relieve wrist injury. These keyboardshave the ability to reduce strain, but not all users find relief due to the fact that everyone is verydifferent and some things work better for others. It is very heavily noted that to accurately use anergonomic keyboard and expect results requires the use of the correct wrist and keyboard tray(DoD 2003, Jan). The keyboard tray placement is very important to ensuring the correctplacement of the keyboard and mouse for optimum performance while greatly limiting theeffects of repetitive induced injuries. The main purpose of correct keyboard trays is to establish aneutral posture of the body (DoD 2003, Jan). Since we were working with no budget we came up with easy methods of implementingthese ideas without having to purchase items. In all three work station we decided to put a smallbook or pad found around the work environment in front of the keyboard in attempt to simulatethe keyboard tray. This allows for the operator to rest their hands while typing and reducestension in the wrist and hands, limiting chance of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Also, we added thatthe user should add folders under the keyboard in order to simulate the angle of elevation foundin ergonomically correct keyboards. 22 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  23. 23. Laptop Use The general design and concept defies all concepts that are based in ergonomics. This isdue to the theory that is backed by laptop producers, which is “one size fits all.” Laptopmanufacturers do not personally change the contour, shape, or size of the computer based oneach individual’s body dimensions. Instead, one machine, with only one set of dimensions issold, which requires the users to adapt to the machine, rather than the machine adapting to theuser. Even though laptops are so un-ergonomically sound, there are some methods that can beimplemented to help reduce the effects of the poorly designed technology. For example, acomfortable chair without arm rests can be used to let the arms move freely. This reduces stresson the wrists and helps promote a neutral position for the arms. Along with this, elbows shouldbe kept level with or slightly higher than the keyboard. The wrists should also maintain a neutralposition. To help with the poor visual angle created by laptop use, it is suggested that the screenheight be raised if at all possible. This reduces neck, back, and eye strain on the individual. Themost important method that can be used to reduce the negative effects caused by laptops is totake frequent rest breaks from cramped positions that are very common with laptop use (DoD2002, Oct) 23 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  24. 24. Chair Selection In order to sit in a chair and maintain a constant positive work performance, a neutralspine position must be embraced. One of the most important factors that can help maintain aneutral spine position is a properly selected and adjusted chair for an individual. The mostimportant thing is to select a chair that provides comfort and reduces pain on a subject by subjectbasis. A chair that works in maintaining a neutral spine position for one person may not permit aneutral spine position for another person. The following is a description of how one should goabout selecting a proper chair: The first chair component to be investigated is the backrest. Abackrest should have an independent height adjustment as well as an independent lumbar supportheight adjustment. This provides the user with total control concerning back support. The basicdimensions of a backrest are as follows: The height should be no less than fifteen inches high bytwelve inches wide. The lumbar support should protrude out from the backrest at a measurementof at least one inch. Some very good but optional features recommended for backrests are tiltingabilities ranging from ninety to one-hundred and five degrees. The ability to lock the tilt in isalso recommended as an optional feature of backrests. The seat cushion should be made fromhigh density foam at least two inched thick to provide a firm support that is still comfortable. Thecontouring of seat cushions should be slightly concave to further improve comfort for theindividual. One of the most basic features of all office chairs is a seat height adjustment. It isrecommended to have an adjustable seat height ranging from fifteen to twenty and a half inchesfrom the floor. A minimum of a five star base is recommended. A five star base providessuperior stability and support that prevents the user from being able to tip themselves over,which would cause great injury. The base must also be able to swivel 360 degrees. This helpsreduce strain when the user gets in and out of the chair. They can position themselves with the 24 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  25. 25. swivel feature before they stand to help reduce strain from awkward standing procedures. Aswell as a 360 degree swivel and a five star base, the base requires appropriate casters for thefloor type. It is recommended that rubber casters be used on linoleum and tile and that nyloncasters be used on carpet. Armrests are optional but most people prefer them to no armrests. Ifwanted, armrests should be adjustable in height and width. They should be approximately nine totwelve inches in length and without sharp edges. Since, again, this is a low/no budget operation; there will not be an option to choose anew, modern “ergonomic” chair for purchase. There are some fixes that can help withmuscular/skeletal problems caused by sitting in a chair all day. First, a roll of paper towels, toiletpaper, or a full water bottle can be used as lumbar support in a chair that lacks this feature. Byputting a full water bottle, for example, behind one’s back, the lumbar area of the spine receivesmore support which relieves pain. The other methods of both toilet tissue and paper towels workjust as well if the user prefers a little softer support device. Another method of support for a userthat sits in a chair for extended periods of time is the use of pillows. Basically, if one sits on apillow they receive a softer platform in which their spine column can rest on. This prevents theusers back from experiencing strain and pain caused from long durations of time spent sitting.Users can also investigate the actual way that they sit in the chair. Many users that experienceback pain have awkward sitting positions. One of the most common awkward sitting positionsoccurs when users sit on the front edge of the chair. This causes a misalignment of the spinewhich results in pain and discomfort. By just being conscious of the effects of posture whilesitting in a chair, users can prevent and eliminate most common back pain associated with chairuse and extended periods of time. 25 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  26. 26. Visual Angles of Monitors The visual angle maintained at a desk setting can directly cause injury pertaining to theneck and back. If a visual angle required the user to excessively bend his or her neck, then it willcause pain. In order to reduce these types of injuries, new technologies such as liquid crystaldisplay monitors were invented. Cathode ray tube monitors are very large, bulky and heavy. Thiscauses the user to adapt to the machine, which causes injury due to the lack of positioningoptions for this type of monitor. LCD screens have a very reduced depth measurement whencompared to CRT monitors. This causes them to be more user friendly in the sense that they canbe placed in many more positions than CRT monitors. Their placement can reduce visual anglesexperienced by the user which can in turn reduce neck and back strain. The recommended visualangle for viewing computer screens is ten to twenty degrees (DoD 2002, Nov). An LCD monitoris less harsh on the eyes due to the fact that flat screens incredibly reduce glare and theresolutions are higher, and thus better. Higher resolution provides better eye acuity and lessstrain (DoD 2002, Nov). The visual angle that a user experiences when viewing a monitor can be adjusted in manyways without an actual budget for the project. For example, one can adjust the height of themonitor by stacking books underneath. This can raise the height of the monitor which reducesthe angular amount the view has to look down to see. The monitor can also be angled by the useof any object that is placed under either the front or rear platform of the monitor. This can reducethe visual angle which again reduces neck and back strain and pain. 26 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  27. 27. TrainingOrganization In order to solve the problem of improper lifting and organization we decided to train theoperators in ways to perform their tasks with minimal chance of creating a disorder. The firstthing we informed them of was to clean out from under the desks so that they could properly fitwithout having to stand or hunch over. We had them move these boxes to the garage and to areasof the workplace that would not be in the way. In order to have more area to work we also hadthem switch the high desk and low desk, which will improve the operability and efficiency ofeach workstation. In addition, we made it so we eliminated some of the redundancies of multiplemonitors and phones that were unnecessary. By putting one monitor, one phone, and onekeyboard at each workstation allows for them to have quick easy access to their tools withoutunnecessary reaching and muscle straining. There was also a need to have them list theimportance of each tool and manual as to have the most important tools in arms reach rather thanhaving the operator repeatedly reach to higher shelves. The tools with second level of importanceor larger size we had put on the tool bar on the sides of the walls and the tools with the least levelof importance we had put in drawers as to cut down on clutter and confusion. Last we had themtake the diagrams posted around the room and paste them on the desks to the sides of theirworkstation. This made it so there was no need to constantly look up for information and stresstheir neck, rather they have to turn their neck no more than 20 degrees from their focal point ineither direction.This solves a large portion of their problem because it eliminates the need tostrain muscles due to repetitive stretching and straining and allows for efficient reliable work. 27 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  28. 28. Safe lifting practice To cut down on LBD we found a set of guidelines to follow in order to safely lift andcarry various heavy items in order to reduce strain and tension; these guidelines can be found inAppendix D. These guidelines include what to think about before lifting heavy items, the propertechniques for lifting, and the proper way to move and place the load. We walked the operatorsthrough these guidelines and demonstrated for them the methods of lifting as the rules explained.We then posted several copies of this guide around the office and in the garage in case theyforgot a certain portion. We also advised buying relatively cheap back braces but since theemployer had no budget the individual employee would have to purchase it. Cost/Benefit Analysis Since the employer gave us no budget to work with we had to come up with methods thatwere free to the operators as well as helpful. These methods include giving tips on low budgetfixes for tools used, training on organization, and handouts that can be posted around the office.By using these methods we allowed for improvement of the workstation without costing theemployer anything. 28 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  29. 29. Exit Interview The exit interview was created to get information on the worker’s perspective of thesolutions. This is an essential part of the assessment in order to see if our solutions were helpfuland if they were put into practice. We can also compare his knowledge and results to theentrance interview; this comparison is done to see his awareness of office injuries. We can alsoget the workers opinion on why our solutions might or might not be feasible. During theinterview we asked him to be straight forward because this assessment was for his benefit andnot ours. The questions asked can found in Appendix B. First, we asked the employee if his awareness of office injuries had increased and toexplain his answer. He stated that originally he was unaware of muscle strains and other injuriesthat were based on posture when sitting down. He explained that his awareness did increase dueto the assessment and solutions he was provided with. The following question asked theemployee to explain if he found the solutions helpful or not. He answered by stating that thesolutions were odd to follow, mainly because he never really had to correct his posture whenexecuting a task, but it did create a great difference. The final question asked him to voice hisopinion if the solution would increase the efficiency and productivity. Based on his response, itwas clear to see how he acknowledged the positive effects of the solutions on productivity andefficiency. 29 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  30. 30. The Overall Assessment and Monitoring The overall assessment was a success due to several reasons. We were able to discovervarious unhealthy and unsafe working conditions in the working environments and increase theawareness within the working environment. Monitoring the implementation of the solution wasfeasible and accessible. This was due to the fact that our test subject (the employee) was one ofour roommates for three consecutive years. This eliminated the Hawthorne affect and allowedproper information to be obtained. Although, we increased awareness and provided properfeasible solution, it was up to the employee to execute them. Unfortunately the employee failedto carry out the solution after a couple days. This was due to relapses on old habits on workingposture. In order for the solutions to work and improve conditions in the workplace , it was to bea collaboration on both Ergonomists and test subjects. 30 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  31. 31. Works CitedBridger, R. (2009). Introduction to Ergonomics, Third Edition . Boca Raton: CRC Press.Center for Disease Control. (2011, April 15). Retrieved from www.cdc.gov: http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotionCohen, A. L. (1997, March). Elements of Ergonomics Programs. Retrieved from NIOSH: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-117/DoD. (2002, November). Are LCD Monitors “Easy on the Eyes”? Retrieved from DoD Ergonomic Working Group NEWS: http://ergoworkinggroup.org/ewgweb/IndexFrames/index3.htmDoD. (2003, January). Ergonomic Keyboards. Retrieved from DoD Ergonomics Working Group News : http://ergoworkinggroup.org/ewgweb/IndexFrames/index3.htmDoD. (2002, October). Safety Tips for Laptop Computer Use. Retrieved from Dod Ergonomics Working Group NEWS: http://ergoworkinggroup.org/ewgweb/IndexFrames/index3.htmDoD. (2011, April). The Pros and Cons of a Sit-Stand Workstation. Retrieved from DoD Ergonomics Working Group NEWS: http://ergoworkinggroup.org/ewgweb/IndexFrames/index3.htmDoD. (2008, September). Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs). Retrieved from DoD Ergonomics Working Group Fact Sheet: http://www.ergoworkinggroup.org/ewgweb/SubPages/ProgramTools/Publications/PDFfa ctsheets/FS1.pdfDoD. (2008, November). You should know about carpal tunnel syndrome. Retrieved from Department of Defense Ergonomics Working Group Fact Sheet: http://ergoworkinggroup.org/ewgweb/IndexFrames/index3.htmERAU student employment. (n.d.). Retrieved from eraudb.studentemployment.com: https://eraudb.studentemployment.ngwebsolutions.com/JobX_Home.aspx?ver=1Hagberg, M. (1987). Prevalence rates and odds ratios of shoulder-neck diseases in different occupational groups. British Journal of Industrial Medicine .OSHA checklist. (n.d.). Retrieved from United States Department of Labor : http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/checklist.htmlSafe Lifting Techniques. (2007, April). Retrieved from www3.imperial.ac.uk/pls/portallive/docs/1/15647697.DOCSalvendy, G. (2006). Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics. John Wiley. 31 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  32. 32. Smith, A. P. (1992). Handbook of Human Performance, Volume 2. Acedemic Press.Team, N. E. (2007, August ). Guidelines for Office Chair Selection. Retrieved from DoD Ergonomics Working Group News: http://ergoworkinggroup.org/ewgweb/IndexFrames/index3.htm 32 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  33. 33. Appendix AEmployee Survey1. Please rate each from a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest. Theexposure of unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the working environment:Office: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7Garage: 1 2 3 4 5 6 72. Please Explain why your choice of ratings for each environment. (Eg. Why is rated high/low?What are the conditions do you consider unhealthy about the environment? What are the causesof the unhealthy conditions? Etc.)Office:Garage:3. Please choose the answer that describes the working environment properly:Office: Not enough technology Proper technology Too much technologyGarage:Not enough technology Proper technology Too much technology4. Please explain your choices for the question above.5. Are there any supervisory or managerial causes of unsafe/unhealthy workplace?6. What would you change at your workplace to make your and fellow employee’s time workinghealthier, happier, and more productive? 33 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  34. 34. Appendix B Entrance Interview questions: 1. Can you describe the tasks you go through on a daily basis? (please explain the workstations of each task) 2. Can you describe any unsafe working conditions? 3. Can you explain the role of organization within the workplace? 4. What changes in the workplace would you implement?Exit Interview questions: 1. Did your awareness and knowledge on office injuries increase? How so? 2. Did you find the solutions provided helpful? Why? Why not? 3. Do you think the solutions will increase efficiency and productivity? 34 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  35. 35. Appendix CFigure 1 – demonstrates the interconnection of WMSDs and internal problems that already existRetrieved from:Salvendy, G. (2006). Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics. John Wiley. 35 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  36. 36. Appendix DSafe liftingLifting and carrying is a common cause of injury at work. Good manual handling techniques cansignificantly reduce the risk of injury.Almost all staff and students at some time get involved in manual handling in College: whether it’scarrying a pile of books, shifting a computer or moving equipment in an office or laboratory.This guidance describes the basic techniques of good lifting practice to help you avoid unnecessary injuryPrinciples of safe lifting practiceBefore you start Think about the job Does it need carrying, or can a trolley or other equipment be used instead Think about what you are going to do before you do it: Where is the load going? Does it need more than one person to lift it safely? Is there enough room? How can you avoid having to twist when lifting or putting the load down? Think about you Are you dressed for the job? Tight clothing can restrict movement. High heels are never suitable. Do you have a health problem that might make you vulnerable to injury If you are not sure of how heavy a load is, test it out before you try to lift it. Gently rock the load to test the weight and its distribution If you have not been trained, you should not lift >15Kg without advice from your local Manual Handling Assessor Remove any obstructions/tripping hazards from the route Work out where and how to take a rest if moving a heavy load over a long distance Are there any sharp edges? If so, then you may need to wear gloves to protect yourself If load is too bulky, look at ways in which to break it downLifting technique Place you feet apart to make a stable base for lifting Placing one leg forward in front of the other will help 36 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  37. 37. improve balance and control If you have to reach out to the load, try sliding it towards you before attempting to lift it If lifting from a low height, bend your knees, NOT your back Stand correctly, keeping your back straight and your chin tucked in Keep your shoulders level and facing the same direction as your hips Lift smoothly, avoiding jerking movements Lift your head first – your back then straightens automatically Grip the load with your palms, rather than just your fingers – If you need to change your grip, rest the load first. Keep your arms close to your body to help support the load Do not allow the load to obstruct your view – seek assistance if it is too large.Moving the load When carrying, keep the load as close to the body as possible Keep the heaviest side of the load closest to your body When pulling or pushing, use your body weight to move the load – if possible, let the momentum of the load do some of the work e.g. when pushing trolleys When pulling, keep your back straight and your arms as close to your body centre line as possible Avoid twisting your body when turningDocument Retrieved from:Safe Lifting Techniques citation 37 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department
  38. 38. Appendix EThe OSHA checklist that we filled out can found immediately following this page.Checklist retrieved from OSHA checklistcitation 38 Ergonomic Assessment of the IT Department

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