Ergonomics Program

Summary: The purpose of the UC Irvine Ergonomic Program is to prevent the pain and suffering, as well as costs to the University, associated with ergonomic related injuries.

  1. Program Description
  2. Scope
  3. Definitions
  4. Responsibilities
  5. Specific Program Components
  6. Reporting Requirements
  7. Information and External References
  8. Competency Assessment and Training Requirements

1. Program Description

The purpose of the UC Irvine Ergonomic Program is to prevent the pain and suffering, as well as costs to the University, associated with ergonomic related injuries. This is done through a combination of workplace training, evaluation of workstations and work practices, and the implementation of ergonomic control strategies.

2. Scope

The Ergonomics Program encompasses all UC Irvine employees whose job functions have the potential for work related injuries and disorders. Certain aspects of our job tasks and work environments contain risk factors that may contribute to injury or disability. Through proper ergonomic assessment, potential injuries and disorders may be reduced, prevented and even eliminated.

The table below illustrates the relationship between work settings, job tasks, risk factors and body areas that may be affected.

Work Settings
Job Tasks
Risk Factors
Affected Body Areas
Office & Computer Word Processing (typing), Data Entry and Web surfing (mouse use) Frequency, Duration, Force Hands, wrists, arms, neck, shoulders
Laboratory Pipette use, microscope use Posture, Frequency, Duration Hands, arms, neck, back, legs
Manual Material and Handling Carrying and transporting heavy materials Posture, Heavy exertion, Force Back, arms, shoulders, legs

3. Definitions

3.1 Ergonomics: The study of the relationship between people, their work and their physical work environment. The major goal of ergonomics is to fit the job to the individual and promote healthy and safe work practices.

3.2 Risk Factors: Poor workplace designs can present stressors called risk factors. These risk factors may include:· Repetition the number of motions or movements that are performed per cycle or per shift.· Force the power of the muscles used to produce motion in order to perform necessary activities such as lifting, grasping, pinching, pushing, etc.· Extreme Postures when muscles are required to work at a level near or at their maximum capacity.

3.3 Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD): An injury or illness of the soft tissues of the upper extremity, shoulders and neck, lower back, and lower extremity that is primarily caused or exacerbated by workplace risk factors, such as sustained and repeated exertions or awkward postures and manipulations. (Examples include: tendonitis, epicondylitis, rotator cuff syndrome, low-back pain.)

3.4 Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI): Also known as repetitive stress injuries, an RMI is a type of stress injury that results from repetitive motions such as frequent bending or sustained awkward positioning performed over extended periods of time without allowing for sufficient rest. Examples of RMI are medical conditions resulting from repeated use of a body part.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Employees: It is the responsibility of UC Irvine employees to access proper ergonomics training to improve their work practices if necessary.

4.2 Work Unit Specific Supervisor/ Department: It is the responsibility of each department head and/or supervisor to support or recommend proper training for ergonomics for staff. Additionally, they are responsible for implementation of EH&S ergonomic recommendations if necessary.

4.3 Environmental Health and Safety: It is the responsibility of EH&S to evaluate and monitor the ergonomics program including assessing the nature and extent of ergonomics hazards, recommending ways of minimizing or controlling these hazards, and supporting the University in consultation and direction regarding ergonomics.

5. Specific Program Components

5.1 Ergonomic Self-Evaluation

  • Access the Ergonomics: Computer and Office on-line training , a detailed online program where employees may complete a self-assessment to identify potential risk factors. Upon completion, both the employee and supervisor receive a written report, which includes personalized recommendations to increase the employee's comfort and reduce the risk of injury while working at the computer workstation.

5.2 On-site Ergonomic Evaluation

  • Employees, Supervisors, or Department Heads may request an ergonomic assessment of work area(s) or work process on the "HOW TO: Request an Ergonomic Evaluation or Training" website.
  • EH&S staff will conduct an ergonomic evaluation based on observations that include:
    • Posture and body mechanics
    • Equipment used (mouse, keyboard, pipettes, microscope, etc.)
    • Work environment including workspace, access, lighting and glare
    • Rate and repetition of tasks or job processes
    • Other employee practices that may be a contributing factor (behaviorial habits)
  • EH&S will provide written documentation for eliminating or reducing the identified ergonomic risk factors to the employees and their supervisor. There are two general approaches to controlling ergonomics risks:
    • Engineering Controls - Changes are made to the workstations, tools, and/or machinery that alter the physical composition of area or process.
    • Administrative or Work Practice Controls - Changes are made to regulate exposure without making physical changes to the area or process; for example, taking frequent breaks and job rotations.
  • Timely implementation of ergonomic recommendation help alleviate issues and reduce risks in the workplace.

6. Reporting Requirements

  • If an employee experiences any signs or symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders, the employee is to report their symptoms to their supervisor.
  • Employees may also wish to consult their personal physicians to rule out any other underlying causes.

7. Information and External References

Cal/OSHA, Title 8 §5110, Repetitive Motion Injuries

8. Competency Assessment and Training Requirements

  • EH&S offers a monthly training course on Office & Computer Ergonomics where the definition and history of ergonomics, different types of risk factors, and methods of minimizing risks using engineering and work practice controls are discussed. Visit the UC Learning Center at to read the class overviews and sign up for a class.


Document Initiator: Belinda Manalac
Rev.: 8/2010

University of California, Irvine Environmental Health & Safety
4600 Health Sciences Road, Irvine, CA 92697-2725 (949) 824-6200, Fax (949) 824-8539