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The purpose of Ergonomics is to increase the safety, comfort and performance of the workstation.
Sacramento State’ EHS wants to provide information and educate people on the basics of ergonomics in order to avoid injury. Not only will they be able to help themselves at work, but these principles can be applied to home, hobbies or help friends and coworkers who may have similar issues.
Ergonomic Chair Specification
These specifications were developed by a system-wide committee of Sac State purchasing agents and safety officer and are intended to address employees of both sexes that fall into the 95th percentile range of height.
Employees that fall outside this parameter must be accommodated with the purchase of special ergonomic chairs. Special ergonomic chairs, however, are not the subject of this specification. Environmental Health and Safety and Purchasing should be consulted if special chairs are required.
- The chair base must be a five-point unit with casters that will roll across carpeted floors without pulling the carpet into the caster housing. The casters should be large enough to require a minimum effort to move the chair. The five-point base will measure not less than twenty-three inches across. The roller casters should be removable and capable of being replaced.
- The seat pan must be adjustable for forward and backward tilt angle independent of lumbar support adjustment. The seat pan will adjust forward at least 2" This action will move the seat pan forward away from the backrest for the prescribed distance and provide a longer seat pan reach.
- The forward leading edge of the seat pan must cascade to a rounded edge that has a downward sloping angle, and shall have a concave contour for even weight distribution. The cushion deformation measured at the center of the seat pan shall be no more than one inch, as measured from a plane formed by a straight edge laid across the top of the seat of the pan.
- The entire upper chair assembly must be capable of 360-degree rotation.
- The backrest must be contoured to provide lumbar support and be adjustable for height and for angles ranging from behind the vertical to forward of the vertical position. The back support should have a vertical height adjustment span of at least three and one-half inches. The height adjustment may be achieved with one gross adjustment or with a combination of adjustment mechanisms.
- Arm supports must be adjustable for height and be removable. The height adjustment will be at least two and one-half inches, as measured from the lowest position of the armrest to the full-extended position of the armrest. The armrest should be easily removed and adjustable without the use of tools.
- All adjustment mechanisms must be readily operable and within easy reach of the chair user. Adjustments must be capable of being accomplished without the use of tools. It is preferred that adjustment mechanisms be provided with labels as to their function.
- Chairs will meet or exceed ANSI/BIFMA (x5.1), 1993 Standards.
Use of Back Belts
The use of back belts to prevent injury has been disputed for several years and no scientific studies had been conducted until fairly recently.
In December, 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a thorough study in which they concluded that back belts did not reduce back injury claims or complaints of lower back pain. Prior to this report the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) expressed concerns about back belts in their 1996 publication, Back Belts - Do They Prevent Injury? This publication listed the following points of concern.
- There is a lack of scientific evidence that back belts work.
- Workers wearing back belts may attempt to lift more weight than they would have without a belt. A false sense of security may subject workers to greater risk of injury.
- Workers and employers should redesign the work environment and work tasks to reduce lifting hazards, rather than rely solely on back belts to prevent injury.
The best method to prevent back injury is for the worker to understand the movements which are dangerous and how to mitigate the hazard by employing proper lifting technique. All employees who are at risk of back injury should attend an ergonomics/back safety training class to prevent these types of injuries.
Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMI)
The University has had in effect for a number of years a program to eliminate repetitive motion injuries. This program focused primarily on computer work station arrangement, back safety and proper lifting techniques.
In response to the passage of section 6357 of the State Labor Code and the subsequent enactment of section 5110 (Repetitive Motion Injuries) in Title 8, California Code of Regulations, the University program was expanded to include all repetitive motion injuries.
Training is periodically scheduled by EH&S. Worksite evaluations are conducted by EH&S staff and by an ergonomic consultant to the University.