Ergonomics 102

The class Ergonomics provides an overview of the science of ergonomics and its application in the workplace. Ergonomic hazards may be present in any work environment, and are a common safety risk. Not all ergonomic risks are apparent, but they can still cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Vibration, poor posture or positioning, and repetitive motion are common ergonomic hazards, though back injuries are the most common workplace injuries. The majority of work-related back injuries are caused by unsafe lifting techniques. Even computer tasks can cause MSDs over time. Ergonomic solutions should be tailored to the individual employee performing the job or task.

Ergonomic programs are an effective way for any employer to increase employee safety, decrease injury and illness, reduce sick time, boost employee morale, and reduce turnover rates. Implementing proper ergonomics in the workplace increases productivity and reduces the cost of sick leave and new employee training.

  • Difficulty Beginner

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 17

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • What is Ergonomics?
  • The Importance of Ergonomics
  • Detecting Ergonomic Hazards
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Ergonomic Risks
  • Ergonomics Basics
  • Ergonomic Risks: Vibration
  • Ergonomic Risk: Posture
  • Ergonomic Risks: Back Injury
  • Proper Lifting Techniques
  • Ergonomic Risk: Repetitive Motion
  • Ergonomic Risks and MSDs
  • Ergonomic Risks and Hazards
  • Ergonomics for Computer Workstations
  • Implementation and Solutions
  • Benefits of Ergonomics
  • Final Review
  • Define ergonomics.
  • Explain the importance of ergonomics.
  • Describe the methods of detecting ergonomic hazards.
  • Define musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Identify ergonomic risks in the workplace.
  • Describe how to avoid the risks posed by vibration.
  • Explain the importance of maintaining good posture.
  • Explain the strategies for avoiding back injury in the workplace.
  • Explain the strategies for avoiding back injury in the workplace.
  • Explain how repetitive motion injuries occur.
  • Distinguish between the various factors that determine hazard risk levels.
  • Describe proper ergonomics for computer workstations.
  • List ways that employers can reduce the risk of MSDs in the workplace.
  • Describe the benefits of ergonomics.
Vocabulary Term


A sudden appearance or change of a negative effect to ergonomic hazards. A sprain is an acute condition.


Inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis often occurs in the fingers and hands.

carpal tunnel syndrome

A musculoskeletal disorder that develops due to compression of the median nerve between the arm and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is painful and can eventually lead to reduced hand function.


A condition that develops or becomes worse gradually over time. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a chronic condition.


The length of time an individual is exposed to a hazard, such as a chemical gas, a loud noise, or an uncomfortable position. Duration can determine the risk level of the hazard exposure.


The scientific study of equipment design, workspace arrangement, and the environment to increase worker comfort, safety, and productivity. Ergonomics can be applied to any workplace.

eye strain

Fatigue of the eyes caused by prolonged or intense use. Eye strain is often caused by working at a computer.


A small powered industrial vehicle that has two prongs on the front for lifting material. Forklifts are used to transport heavy loads.

hand-held grinder

A hand-held tool that uses an abrasive to remove material from a workpiece surface. Hand-held grinders cause vibration to the tissues of the hand.

herniated disks

A rupture in one or more disks that act as a cushion between the bones of the spine. Herniated disks can cause pain and nerve irritation.


The amount of time between an individual's first exposure to a hazard and the first appearance of injury or illness. Latency can determine the risk level of a hazard.


The component of a computer that includes the screen. Monitors visually display digital information.


A small, rolling, hand-held device with one or more buttons that is used to control a computer cursor. A mouse is used to select and move certain areas or items on a computer screen.


Pertaining to muscles, joints, bones, and related body parts. The musculoskeletal system is greatly affected by ergonomics.

musculoskeletal disorders

MSD. A type of Injury affecting the muscles, joints, bones and related body parts. Musculoskeletal disorders can cause pain, numbness, and permanent damage to parts of the body.

National Institutes of Health

NIH. A federal medical research agency that is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The National Institutes of Health conducts and funds medical research.

neutral position

The proper or correct position of a bone or joint at rest. Keeping the spine and wrists in a neutral position can prevent pain and injury.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA. A government agency under the U.S. Dept. of Labor that sets the standards for working conditions in the United States. OSHA ensures that employees work in safe and healthy environments.

pallet jack

A small hand-propelled vehicle that uses two prongs to lift and transport pallets of items. Pallet jacks may also be referred to as hand trucks.

poor positioning

Improper positioning of the body due to the arrangement of a workstation or work area. Poor positioning can lead to pain and injury.


The arrangement of a workstation in relation to how the operator must move to complete work. Positioning should allow employees to stand or sit with correct posture.

press brake

A type of stamping machine with an open frame and wide, narrow bed. Press brakes are often used for bending operations, and they are typically manually operated.


The amount of actual work done or products made as compared to the hours spent doing the work. Productivity can be increased through proper ergonomics.

rate of exposure

The combination of the intensity and the duration of exposure to a hazard. High rates of exposure will cause injury or illness more quickly than mild rates of exposure.

repetitive motion

Persistent and continual movement that can cause localized musculoskeletal disorders. Assembly line workers often perform tasks that require repetitive motion.

repetitive motion injury

One of many painful conditions that can occur in an area of the body which has performed frequent repetitions of a movement. Repetitive motion injuries most often occur in the joints of the arms.

spinal stenosis

A narrowing of the open spaces within the spine that is caused by wear and tear or injuries. Spinal stenosis can be caused by prolonged poor posture.


A severe stretching, twisting, or tearing of one or more ligaments. Sprains injure the ligaments that connect bones to one another.

suction device

A handled tool that uses vacuum power to lift an object. Suction devices attach as a temporary handle to a heavy or difficult to lift item.

team lifted

Picked up and moved by multiple people. Heavy objects should be team lifted to distribute weight amongst multiple people.


Inflammation of any one of the tendons which attach muscles to bones. Tendonitis is generally a repetitive motion injury.


A rapid, steadily repeating movement. Vibration is a physical hazard.


A specific area designated for an employee to perform a specific task or work duty. A workstation may be assigned to one employee, or employees may rotate through workstations.


Sitting or standing in a proper upright position. Correct posture can prevent many ergonomic injuries.


The manner in which a person sits, stands, or otherwise positions his or her body. Proper posture involves keeping the back straight.