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CONN-OSHA Quarterly

Volume No. 37
Spring 2004

  • Office Ergonomics

  • Hazard Corner

  • Marina Safety

  • Training Update

  • SHARP Update

Ergonomics in Office Environments (Part II of II)
Usha Maru, Occupational Hygiene Consultant

In the last issue of the CONN-OSHA Quarterly we discussed Office Safety. In this article we will shed some light on Office Ergonomics. The word ERGONOMICS has become very common today. In Greek, ERGO means “work” and NOMOS means “law.” Thus, ergonomics is the design of work and the living environment based on the study of human characteristics.

What do employees bring to work? Employees bring their individual sizes, body dimensions, medical conditions, previous injuries, age, habits, professional skills and fitness levels. Once they get to work, it often requires repetitious movements, awkward postures, forceful movements, contact pressure, stress, and excessive visual demands. This brings us to the following equation:

Human Needs + Functional Needs = Workstation Design 

The better we balance this equation, the better our jobs will fit to our needs. The net result will be higher productivity, better efficiency, improved quality, reduced absenteeism, and fewer injuries.

Nationally, and in our state, almost 60% of all illnesses reported are due to ergonomics.  Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) represent one-in-three lost time injuries, and cost twice the average worker’s compensation claim. Ergonomic illnesses take a long time to improve, take us away from work, and affect our quality of life. Thus the cost to the employer and also to the employees is very high.

The good news is that ergonomics-related injuries are preventable and the industry has come a long way in developing a great variety of products to choose from to match human needs with functional needs. Every $1.00 spent in ergonomic corrections saves the employer $3.00. The key for success is to implement an ergonomic program in the work place with the following elements:

1.    Management Commitment

2.    Employee Involvement

3.   Work Site Analysis

4.   Medical Management

5.   Training and Education

6.   Ongoing Evaluation

Management must commit themselves to help prevent ergonomic injuries. Management should assign and communicate responsibilities, as well as provide authority, resources, information and training. The present condition of the work spaces and general environment should be thoroughly evaluated.

Employee involvement is another key to success. Ergonomic changes made in the workplace are only as good as their use by employees. If they do not use the workstation changes properly and regularly, then the changes will not be effective. Therefore, employee involvement in evaluating, planning, and implementing changes is crucial to success.

Today most of us work using computers. An analysis of computer workstations requires proper adjustment of the chair height, lumbar support, knee angle, table height, viewing distance, viewing angle, keyboard height, and screen height. The chair should be properly adjusted so the wrist, neck, back, and knee are in a neutral position.

Medical management is equally important for the total success.  If symptoms are present before, during or even after the ergonomic changes are made, an early intervention using treatment and therapy will avoid the progression of the injuries.

Training and education can not be overemphasized.  Understanding how the body works, what the neutral positions are, and how to maintain them are very crucial to the success of ergonomic solutions. If we clearly understand the body mechanism and our work needs, we will utilize the ergonomic changes with needed accuracy and consistency.

Finally, ongoing evaluations are a must. We and our work change with time; therefore, periodic evaluations are required.  The modifications made to our workstations need to be re-evaluated to assess their effectiveness.

We hope now that you are convinced of the need to evaluate office workstations, prioritize the risk factors, evaluate possible changes, implement the most desirable changes, provide training and perform ongoing assessments.

At CONN-OSHA, we have professional consultants who can help you evaluate your workstations and make recommendations for improvement. For information about our consultation program, contact our office at (860) 566-4550.

There is also helpful information available on OSHA’s website to help you evaluate your computer workstations.  A Computer Workstation eTool, which includes more detailed information about computer workstation ergonomics and an evaluation checklist, is available at:  The publication, Working Safely with VDTs (OSHA 3092), is available at:

Hopefully this article enables you to develop a safe and comfortable work environment.


 This accident involved a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician who was cleaning the return ducts in a dormitory.  The technician was using a battery operated manlift to gain access to the sheet metal overhead ducts. He had a 1Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office volt shop vacuum on the lift. The manlift is equipped with a 1Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office volt duplex, ground fault circuit protected (GFCI) outlet. The outlet gets its electrical source from a pendent connected to a user supplied extension cord. The extension cord was plugged into a 1Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office volt duplex outlet that was part of the building’s fixed wiring. The user supplied extension cord was missing its ground pin and did not have a continuous path to ground. While the technician was cleaning the metal ducts with the shop vacuum, he came in contact with the metal railing of the manlift, completing an electrical circuit. The technician was removed from the manlift and airlifted to a hospital for treatment of injuries from electrical shock.  A subsequent inspection of the lift was conducted by the manufacturer.

This condition easily could have resulted in a fatality. Always use electrical equipment that has a permanent and continuous path to ground.  Attention to the condition of flexible cords and inspection before usage could have avoided the shocking results.

Marina Safety
Paul Hartmann, Occupational Safety Consultant

If you work in or regularly visit a marina, you should be aware of potential hazards. Always try to be watchful of what is happening around you. When entering any storage building don’t forget to look up. Weight handling equipment may be in use and even a relatively small part such as a nut or bolt when dropped from a significant height can cause a serious injury. Stop at blind intersections and check for traffic before stepping out.

One of the most often misused items is the boat stand. A boat stand is a tripod and on top is a pad (usually rectangular in shape) that swivels to match the pitch of a boat’s hull. It is a “shoring system” not designed or intended to be a jack stand, floor jack, or any type of weight handling device. Boat stands are not rated for any weight capacity. They stabilize a boat that is supported by its keel. Most         commonly a boat is set on “keel blocks,” then boat stands are placed on each side to ensure the boat stays balanced on the blocking. Boat stands are commonly called “Poppits.” They are excellent tools when used as intended. Misused they can be deadly.

Other safety hazards commonly found in marinas are:

  • Blocked or obstructed access to exits.

  • Ladders (portable) not properly secured.

  • Poor housekeeping that contributes to slips, trips and falls.

  • Lack of a workplace hazard assessment.

  • Untrained operators operating powered industrial trucks.   

  • No crane inspection program; lack of training for   lifting and handling operations; hoist capacity not posted.

  • Unguarded edges on decks, platforms and similar flat surfaces that are more than five feet above a solid surface. 

Marinas and boatyards are great places to visit and/or work. Remember to watch out for what is going on around you. With just a little effort, we can ensure that safety does not take a holiday when you need it most.  Stay alert!

CONN-OSHA Training Update

Breakfast Roundtable Discussion Group
April 20, 2004, May 18, 2004, and June 15, 2004
(The third Tuesday of every month)

The intent of these free 90-minute workshops is to discuss safety and health issues in a supportive and informal environment. These meetings cover subjects ranging from evacuation plans and fire extinguishers to air quality and ergonomics. The roundtable meetings are held from 8:15 am to 9:45 am at the Division’s offices located at 38 Wolcott Hill Road, Wethersfield, CT. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required. 

Work Zone Safety*
May 4, 2004

Basic guidelines for work zone traffic control and the requirements of Part VI of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), with particular emphasis on short term work sites on roads and streets in rural and small urban areas will be presented.

Defensive Driving*
May 25, 2004

This course is designed to refresh and improve the basic driving knowledge that you already have.  According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 77% of traffic accidents are a result of driver error.  Learning how to become a better driver is essential to ensuring your safety on the road. 

Powered Industrial Trucks*
June 22, 2004 or September 14, 2004

With well over one million lift trucks in operation today, emphasis must be placed on both operator and pedestrian safety.  This half-day program will help you understand OSHA safety and health regulations governing these pieces of equipment, in addition to providing you with assistance in developing training for your lift truck operators and other affected employees.

CONN-OSHA Presents: Protecting Employees, A Homeland Security Response
May 26, 2004

CONN-OSHA is presenting a no-cost, full day seminar that will provide awareness level training with regard to Weapons of Mass Destruction.  This seminar will cover topics such as biological and chemical weapons; the levels and limits of personal protective ensembles; respiratory protection, including a fit-test demonstration; and a tabletop exercise that will walk you through the various stages of a response incident. Completion of this session will meet the requirements of awareness level training as required by OSHA standard 29 CFR 19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.120(q).  1.0 CM point will be awarded to CIHs/CAIHs who complete this session.  This seminar will be held at Johnson Memorial Hospital from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.  Pre-registration is required, as seating is limited. 

This seminar is sponsored by Johnson Memorial Hospital.

*Classes are free and will be held at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT in Conference Room A from 9 am - 12 noon.  Pre-registration is required. 

To register for one of these sessions, call John Able at (860) 566-4550, ext. 398 or send an email to

Visit for more training information.

SHARP Update: 

Connecticut Companies Recognized at Regional SHARP Luncheon

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety On-Site Consultation Program sponsored the First Annual Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) Luncheon on January 26, 2004.  The event was held at the Glen Ellen Country Club in Millis, MA and the keynote speaker was Marthe Kent, OSHA Region I Administrator. Approximately 60 people attended this luncheon event, including New England companies that have been awarded SHARP certification, as well as representatives from companies considering SHARP certification.  CONN-OSHA staff in attendance were Richard Palo, Director, Thomas Hozebin, Occupational Safety and Health Manager, John Able, Occupational Safety Training Specialist, Richard Crans, Occupational Hygienist, and Usha Maru, Occupational Hygienist.

There were a few highlights of the event for Connecticut companies:  Mr. Gary Sawicki of the Cooper-Atkins Corporation of Middlefield spoke about their journey towards SHARP certification; Infoshred, LLC of South Windsor was awarded their initial SHARP certification; and Wafios Machinery Corporation of Branford was awarded their second two-year renewal certification. CAS Medical Systems, Incorporated of Branford, who is currently working toward SHARP certification, was also in attendance at the luncheon. 

CONN-OSHA sends thanks and congratulations to Cooper-Atkins, Infoshred, and Wafios Machinery for their commitment to health and safety.  CONN-OSHA also would like to recognize Connecticut SHARP recipient Nutmeg Container of Putnam, who was not able to attend the event.

CONN-OSHA is proud to announce that Connecticut’s Free, On-Site Consultation Program will be sponsoring the Second Annual SHARP Luncheon on Tuesday, October 5, 2004.  Save the date and stay tuned for additional details.

group photo

group photo

Gary Sawicki and Rick Cayer represented Cooper-Atkins Corporation at the First Annual SHARP luncheon.  Pictured are (from left) John Able, Richard Palo, Rick Cayer, Marthe Kent, Gary Sawicki, and  Thomas Hozebin

Ronna Goselin (second from right), accepts SHARP certification of behalf of Infoshred, LLC.  Pictured (from left) are Richard Palo, Usha Maru, Marthe Kent, Ronna Goselin, and Thomas Hozebin.



CONN-OSHA Quarterly Index

Last Updated: October 24, 2016

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