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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 43

Ergonomics

43.1  Purpose and Scope.

A.  To specify the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program (Program) requirements for Department of the Interior (Department or DOI) and U.S. Geological Survey (Bureau or USGS) ergonomics.

B.  This chapter applies to all USGS operations and activities.  Ergonomics is the study of work, which attempts to design the work environment to fit the employee’s physical capabilities and limitations. The USGS is committed to preventing injuries associated with ergonomic hazards.  Through training, workplace evaluation, and redesign this Bureau hopes to greatly reduce the number and severity of musculoskeletal injuries experienced in the workplace.

43.2  Authorities/References.

A.  29 CFR 1910.900, Subpart W.

B.  Sections 4, 6, and 8, Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. 653, 655, 657, Secretary of Labor's Order No. 3-2000 (65 FR 50017); and 29 CFR Part 1911.

43.3  Definitions.

A.  Ergonomics. The science that studies workers in their workplace and attempts through education, workplace design, job rotation, or use of specially designed tools and equipment to reduce the stress on the body. The goal of an effective ergonomics program is to reduce the incidence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) caused by repetitive stress, awkward positioning, vibration, heavy lifting or bending, and reaching. This policy is designed to reduce the number and severity of MSD’s caused by exposure to risk factors found in the workplace. This chapter establishes policy for implementing an effective ergonomics program that should virtually eliminate MSD’s through personnel education, managerial support, and workplace evaluation and redesign. This policy further encourages employee participation, as demonstrated by the early reporting of MSD’s and active involvement by employees and their representatives in the implementation, evaluation, and continued development of the USGS program. Finally this policy incorporates job hazard analysis (JHA) and control, as demonstrated by a process that identifies, analyzes, and uses feasible engineering, work practice, and administrative controls to control MSD hazards or reduce MSD hazards to acceptable levels or to the extent feasible and evaluates controls to assure that they are effective.

B.  Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD’s). This includes a number of injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, bones, and supporting blood vessels in the upper or lower extremities or back. Such injuries include back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and Raynaud’s syndrome. These conditions are caused by ergonomic hazards in the workplace such as awkward positioning, repetition, force, mechanical compression, vibration and duration of operation. MSD’s result from the cumulative effect of repeated trauma to a particular part of the body. Cumulative trauma occurs when rest or overnight sleep fails to completely heal these small “microtraumas” that carry over and add to the total effect on the body. Over time MSD’s can result in permanent damage or disability.

43.4  Requirements.

A.  USGS personnel shall be informed about the ergonomic risks associated with the jobs that they are expected to perform when they are initially assigned to the job or when they are reassigned to another position. Personnel will be educated about the most common MSD’s, their signs and symptoms, and the importance of early reporting. Early reporting is a key element since repeated trauma can eventually lead to permanent disability. All work-related MSD’s will be reported using the DOI Safety Management Information System (SMIS) (see Chapter 7, Incident/Accident Reporting/Serious Incident Reporting).

B.  Each organizational component will write and implement a plan for their individual location (a template is located in Appendix 43-1). The plan will include a means for identifying ergonomic hazards in the workplace (JHA), means for reporting ergonomic hazards (employee reporting) and requesting work area evaluations, and training of staff at all levels. Appropriate levels of training will be provided to organizational staff as discussed later in this chapter.

C.  Training will be provided to employees in jobs that have been identified as having ergonomic hazards during formal audits or during the supervisory job hazard analysis. Supervisors and any other employees involved in setting up or managing the ergonomics program will also receive ergonomics training.

D.  At a minimum, all full time safety staff will be provided with an adequate amount of ergonomics training to be able to handle routine issues concerning ergonomics evaluations and work area design. More complicated issues will be handled via the Public Health Service Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or via contract with an Ergonomic Consultant.

E.  The identification of ergonomic hazards is a joint responsibility shared by management, supervisors, collateral duty safety officers, and employees. The formal means for identifying hazards is through the use of a JHA or through the use of appropriate checklists, which will consider the risk of musculoskeletal injuries as a part of the evaluation. JHA is a supervisory responsibility. JHA’s are discussed in Chapter 15 in this Handbook and a number of actual templates for JHA’s are available on the USGS website. Sample checklists for different types of jobs with ergonomic hazards are provided as appendixes to this chapter. If hazards are discovered, control measures will be implemented to reduce the hazards. Control measures can be as simple as an adjustment to a workstation or chair. Control measures can also mean job rotation or more complex solutions such an operation redesign.

F.  Personnel who report a recordable MSD incident will be provided with prompt access to a health care professional (HCP) for evaluation and follow-up subsequent to their injury or illness. The HCP will determine if any modification of the regular duties are necessary. Upon reporting, supervisors will investigate and the employees, along with management, will be involved in the process of suggesting solutions that are reasonable in terms of completing the job efficientlyand safely.

43.5  Responsibilities.

A.  Bureau Safety Manager and Bureau Industrial Hygienist.

(1)  Provide guidance and assistance to the regional offices in setting up their regional programs.

(2)  Provide checklists to assist the field component in evaluating work areas with identified ergonomic risk factors/hazards.

(3)  Assist regions with designing and arranging for appropriate training in ergonomics for staff at all levels (this may include web-based training, training-the-trainer training via PHS contract or a professional ergonomics trainer).

(4)  Provide materials and educational articles via the quarterly newsletter, for example.

B.  Regional Directors/Executives. Provide sufficient resources and delegate appropriate authority and responsibility to the Regional Ergonomics Program Managers (Regional Safety Managers or designee) and supervisory staff to develop and implement a viable ergonomics program to include training staff on ergonomics and to make work area modifications when work-related musculoskeletal injuries have occurred.

C.  Regional Safety Managers.

(1)  Provide regional compliance oversight and assistance to Regional Safety Officers and field staff to implement the Bureau Ergonomics Program. This policy will include:

(a)  How training will be accomplished for supervisors, collateral duty safety officers, and all employees working in jobs with ergonomic risks.

(b)  Procedures for requesting an ergonomic evaluation and how the ergonomic evaluations will be accomplished.

(2)  Provide training to regional staff and act as the regional consultant on ergonomic issues.

(3)  Develop an Action Plan and implement an across the board training plan for Supervisors, Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators (CDSPC’s), and employees working in areas with ergonomic hazards.

(4)  Assist CDSPC’s via providing consultation on unique ergonomic issues and engineering or design requests.

D.  Regional Safety Officers.

(1)  Participate in appropriate training to be able to provide guidance to supervisors and CDSPC’s on ergonomic issues.

(2)  Coordinate with the PHS for advice and consultation for unique or complex ergonomic hazards that require the expertise of a professional ergonomist or human factors engineer.

(3)  Assist the Regional Safety Manager with coordinating training for personnel throughout the region.

E.  Supervisors.

(1)  Conduct JHA’s to determine which jobs contain ergonomic hazards or risk factors.

(2)  Ensure that personnel participate in training on ergonomics and can identify the signs and symptoms of MSD’s.

(3)  Ensure that sound ergonomic principles are integrated into all aspects of the work being performed.

(4)  Encourage early reporting of work related MSD’s, since early intervention is critical to minimize the damage which can be caused by repeated exposure to ergonomic risk factors.

(5)  Ensure that personnel are referred for medical evaluation, if they sustain a work-related musculoskeletal injury.

(6)  Ensure that recommendations from ergonomics surveys, which may include purchase of new furniture or equipment, work rotation, or adjustment of existing furniture or equipment, are implemented.

F.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators (CDSPC’s).

(1)  Participate in initial training on ergonomics to be able to conduct basic ergonomics evaluations through the use of a checklist.

(2)  Perform workplace assessments upon request for work areas where ergonomic hazards have been identified during a JHA or for which complaints have been received. Examples of workplace assessment checklists have been provided in Appendixes 43-1 through 43-6.

(3)  Provide copies of the evaluations to the Regional Safety Managers.

43.6  Additional Resources.

A.  Appendix 43-1, Sample Local Ergonomics Standard Operating Procedure.

B.  Appendix 43-2, Computer Workstation Checklist.

C.  Appendix 43-3, General Workstation Checklist.

D.  Appendix 43-4, Task Analysis Checklist.

E.  Appendix 43-5, Hand Tools Analysis Checklist.

F.  Appendix 43-6, Materials Handling Checklist.


SM 445-2-H Table of Contents || Handbooks || Survey Manual Home Page
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/handbook/hb/445-2-h/ch43.html
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Content Information Contact: wrmiller@usgs.gov
Last modification: 28-Aug-2002@16:58 (kk)