Volume No. 37
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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:
or obstructed access to exits.
(portable) not properly secured.
housekeeping that contributes to slips, trips and falls.
a workplace hazard assessment.
Untrained operators operating powered industrial trucks.
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.
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
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
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
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
www.ctdol.state.ct.us/osha/osha.htm for more training
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.
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.