Ergonomics is the study of how you interact with your work and work environment. In the workplace, injury and illness are common and costly to both an employee and a company. Workplace injury and illness, both accidental and nonaccidental, decrease the quality of life for an employee and decrease work efficiency and productivity for a company. The purpose of ergonomics is to improve health and safety, prevent injuries, and improve productivity and quality in the workplace.

Ergonomics looks at both the physical and psychological aspects of your work environment, such as relieving back strain and stress. Most job-related injuries are caused by repetition, awkward postures, reaching, bending over, lifting heavy objects, application of force, and working with vibrating tools. These injuries, called musculoskeletal disorders, can cause stress and strain on muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, or spinal discs. Symptoms include fatigue and hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, neck, or back pain. These injuries can also cause a decrease in overall well-being, chronic health problems, and loss of work days. To prevent musculoskeletal disorders, it is important to orient the work so that you can sit comfortably in a position that minimizes stress on any specific area of your body, vary your positions and tasks, and match tools to your size and preferences.

An ergonomic evaluation may examine:

  • The setup of your workstation as it influences posture, length of time in a position or doing a certain task, types of movements, or repetition of movements.
  • Your job surroundings, including the work surface, lighting, or noise level.
  • Your job tools. This includes any device used to perform your job duties, such as a computer mouse or scanning machines.