University of Vermont

Department of Risk Management & Safety

Worksite Evaluation (ERGO)

Worksite Evaluation & Training


Lighting which is either too bright or too dim may cause eyestrain and headaches. Glare commonly found on video display terminal (VDT) screens can also cause eyestrain. By reducing contrasts in lighting, eyestrain can be minimized. Positioning VDT screens at right angles to windows and parallel to light fixtures can help reduce lighting contrasts. Glare-resistant screens are also available for most VDTs. Employees should talk to their supervisor if they feel that the lighting provided is not adequate for their job.


Noise and Hearing Conservation

The noise level in any area should be low enough not to cause interference with communication or distraction from work. Environments in which excessive noise levels are present can result in the aggravation of hearing impairments and hearing loss. Adequate personal protective equipment should be available in all excessively noisy areas. Any areas that expose employees to noise levels of 85 decibels or higher for a constant 8 hour period require annual audiometric testing of the affected employees. If you need assistance in measuring noise levels in your workspace, call Risk Management at 656-3242.


Work Station

Work station evaluations can help ensure that an individual employee has enough flexibility to ensure optimum comfort, mobility and organization. Three variables should be considered in the design of any work place: chair height, work surface height, and length of required reach. These should all be adjustable to accommodate variations in employee size and strength.
  • The height of the chair should allow the hips and knees to be at right angles to the body with feet on the floor. The seat should be about two inches less than the distance from the crease of the knee to the floor.
  • The backrest of the chair should support the small of the back.
  • The height of the desk, table, typewriter or computer screen should be adjustable so the employee has plenty of leg space and can sit back in the chair with forearms parallel to the floor. If the chair is not adjustable, it can help to place a footrest (a telephone book works) for better support. Placing a book under the Video Display Terminal can also help correct the height of the computer screen.
  • Organize paperwork so that reaching for it may be kept to a minimum.
  • Take 10 to 15 minute breaks every 2 hours to help relieve eyestrain and fatigue associated with VDT use. Varying the work routine can minimize the chance of injury or strain.


Repetitive Motion Injuries

Risk Management's ergonomic training includes a discussion about repetitive motion. Many repetitive motion injuries such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrists are the result of performing repetitive tasks for long periods of time on a daily basis. This might include typing, hand scrubbing, bottle top removal and washing in animal care facilities, or the constant twisting motion in the use of hand tools. The most effective way to avoid these injuries is to vary daily tasks, take breaks, and establish engineering controls (such as automated bottle washers, wrist rests for typing).

For more information about carpal tunnel syndrome.

Last modified February 06 2009 03:08 PM

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