Ergonomics

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of adapting tools, workstations, equipment and job practices to help reduce the risk of injury. It involves matching the work (job) to the worker (individual).

Workstation set-up, safe lifting techniques, proper posture, appropriate seating position, and adaptive equipment are only a few of the many examples of ergonomics in the workplace.

The ergonomics program at UVic actively promotes practices to ensure the health and safety of all of our employees.

Online office ergonomics course

We are excited to announce that we have a new online Office Ergonomics course in Brightspace! 

Employees will be able to view the course in it’s entirety, or pick and choose any of the 13 different video modules.

Office ergonomics

Office Ergonomic Resources

The UVic Office Ergonomics program involves the following resources:

  1. The Office Ergonomics Video Course in Brightspace.
  2. The Office Ergonomics e-learning program through Institute for Work & Health.
  3. The Office Ergonomics Self-Inspection Checklist highlights aspects of an ideal ergonomic work environment.
  4. After completing the checklist, you can refer to Potential Solutions if you are experiencing discomfort.
  5. Remember to incorporate some Office Stretches into your day.
  6. An ergonomic office equipment loaner service is available to help fine-tune your workstation. We have document holders, mini-keyboards, touch pads, laptop holders, gel wrist pads, and other devices that employees can try out before purchasing at the Computer Store (located in the UVic Bookstore).
  7. In addition to our courses, you can contact our office for consultation on more complex and higher risk ergonomic issues on campus. This includes, but it is not limited to, issues around workflow in multi-user spaces and jobs with high physical demands. These situations may require on-site visits and consultation with managers and employees.

Sit-Stand Desks

A sit-stand desk is just one way to avoid sitting for long periods at a time and counter the negative impact it has on our bodies.

The best thing you can do is make posture changes frequently throughout the day.

Tips for sitting less:

  • Stand up every 30 minutes – schedule reminders for yourself!
  • Conduct standing meetings
  • Suggest Walking Meetings when appropriate
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of phoning or emailing
  • Stretch at your desk
  • Eat healthy and stay active

A sit-stand desk is only one option of many to reduce sedentariness and dependent on your situation it may not be the best option.

Employees can try out a sit-stand desk by requesting one through our loaner program. If you require a medical accommodation please view our resources here.

Working Remotely

Many of us likely do not have the same workstation setup at home that is available in our typical offices. It is important to set up your workstation as best you can to prevent injury regardless of where you might work.

The Work from home ergonomics guide will provide you with some helpful tips to set up a comfortable and ergonomic work station at home.

Main tips for working from home:

  • Use a good chair (if possible). If you don’t have a good chair, add pillows for back/leg support.
  • Raise your chair (most kitchen tables and desks are too high). Use a pillow as a seat cushion if needed.
  • Support your feet on a phone book, step stool, etc., if they don’t firmly touch the ground while sitting.
  • Raise your monitor using books, old shoe boxes, etc.
  • Use an external keyboard and mouse. It is essential that the monitor is separated from the keyboard/mouse. The top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye level, shoulders relaxed with the elbows around 90 degrees.

Manual handling (Non-office ergonomics)

The "Manual Handling Ergonomics: University Food Services" course is available in Brightspace.

Manual handling includes any task that requires an individual to move or handle objects by:

  • Lifting/lowering/holding
  • Pushing/pulling
  • Carrying

These physical exertions commonly cause lower back pain, lower back injuries, and occupational fatigue. Injuries can be either cumulative in nature (overuse) or the result of a single event (overexertion).

Education is a key step in preventing injury. You should have a basic understanding of ergonomics principles and manual handling techniques. 

We can offer information, education, and resources that will provide you with an understanding of the basic elements of manual handling. The goal is to learn how to recognize risks and come up with solutions to prevent injuries.

Handouts

  • Manual Handling Risks - An overview of the hazards of Manual Handling; Ergonomic Risk Factors; and how to Assess Manual Handling Risks.
  • How to Lift Safely - A Pre-Lift Checklist, and details on the 4 Basic Lifts.
  • Pushing/Pulling/Carrying - Some tips to eliminate or reduce the risk of Musculoskeletal Injury (MSI) during pushing/pulling/carrying activities.
  • Manual Handling: Stretches - Stretching and exercise can be useful as part of an overall program that includes risk identification, assessment and control.   

Ergonomics training

We offer classroom based Manual Handling Courses that cover body mechanics and best practices for manual handling activities. Bring questions you might have about your own work areas to discuss.

Consultations

In addition to our classroom based training sessions, you can contact our office for consultation on more complex and higher risk ergonomic issues on campus.  This includes, but it is not limited to, issues around workflow in multi-user spaces and jobs with high physical demands. These situations may require on-site visits and consultation with managers and employees.

Laboratory ergonomics

The 'Laboratory Ergonomics' course is available in Brightspace.

Participant are able to self-enroll (after logging in with their NetLink ID and password).

As a laboratory researcher, you are at risk for repetitive motion injuries during routine lab procedures such as pipetting and working at microscopes. Standing and working in awkward positions can also lead to ergonomic problems. You can prevent injuries in the lab by following some simple ergonomic recommendations.

Pipetting

  • Use light touch pipettes that require little force to activate and that fit comfortably in your hand
  • Use electronic pipettes with mixing devices if possible
  • Use multichannel pipettes for longer duration tasks
  • Use thin-wall pipettes tips that fit correctly and are easy to eject
  • Use minimal force when applying pipette tips
  • Clean pipettes regularly to prevent sticking and improve the quality of work
  • Rotate pipetting tasks with other laboratory tasks if possible
  • Take microbreaks every 20-30 minutes to stretch your hand and arm muscles
  • Keep samples and instruments within easy reach
  • Adjust the workstation so your arms are not elevated and are close to the body
  • Use an adjustable lab stool when sitting at a lab bench
  • Use anti-fatigue mats when standing for prolonged periods of time

Using the microscope

  • Position the microscope toward the edge of the workbench so you can sit in a more upright posture.
  • Use adjustable or angled microscope stands and view pieces to avoid forward leaning
  • Elevate the microscope: this can also help you to sit up more and reduce bending of your shoulders and neck
  • Maintain a neutral spine
  • Use a chair that provides adequate back support, adjustable height and seat angle
  • Use armrests to support your forearms while using adjustment knobs on the microscope
  • Tilting your seat forward may reduce need to extend head and neck while using a microscope
  • Use foot rests to ensure your feet are supported
  • Ensure adequate foot room under desk/workstation
  • Take a microbreak every 20-30 minutes to stretch your back and neck
  • Use microbreaks to rest your eyes and focus on far objects to stretch your eyes
  • Alternate using a microscope with other lab tasks when possible
  • Use television or computer screens when possible to avoid use of eyepieces

Working on lab benches, in biosafety cabinets and gloveboxes

  • Use anti-fatigue floor mats if you stand for long periods
  • Use a chair that provides adequate back support, adjustable seat angle and height
  • Adjust your chair height so your bellybutton is level with the height of the work surface
  • Ensure adequate room under your work area to stretch your legs
  • Avoid resting your forearms on hard edges, pad the edges or wear elbow pads
  • Position your work supplies as close as possible
  • Place equipment on approved turntables for easy retrieval
  • Alternate working at the bench or cabinet with other duties
  • Take microbreaks every 20-30 minutes to stretch your muscles and relieve forearm and wrist pressure

Micromanipulation and fine motor skills:

  • Use plastic vials with fewer threads
  • Use small pieces of foam similar to the type used on pencils and pens, to prevent soreness on the fingertips, where fingers and forceps articulate
  • Practice using the forceps between the 1st and 2nd digits instead of using the thumb and 1st digit.
  • Alternate between the two positions to reduce the use of the thumb. The thumb is used repetitively with almost every job task performed in the laboratory
  • Tilt storage bins toward the worker to reduce wrist flexion while reaching for supplies.
  • Encourage micro-breaks and hand exercises.

Resources

Request a height adjustable loaner desk

Frequently asked questions - Loaner desk

How do I request a height adjustable loaner desk?

To request a height adjustable loaner desk from the HR Loaner Desk Program, please complete this online fillable form: http://www.uvic.ca/hr/services/home/health/ergonomics/desk.php

I would like to request a desk move or have questions about your furniture order?

The Work Life Consultants do not organize desk moves or coordinate furniture orders. All requests need to be submitted through Facilities Management FMIS. For more information on furniture and design services please contact Facilities Management Interior modification services.

Through the FMGT loaner chair program, you have the option to “try out” chairs for about a week before buying them. All chairs provide a wide variety of ergonomic features so you can make simple adjustments to get comfortable in your new chair. You can contact Facilities Management at 250-721-7616 to make further arrangements. 

If you are not sure what model of chair best suits your needs, please feel free to contact your Work Life Consultant to discuss the various options in chair models and features.

For how long will I get the desk?

Generally desks are loaned for 4 weeks. If a sit-stand desk is required for a medical accommodation and your ordered desk has not arrived, please contact with your Work-Life Consultant.

What types of desks are available?

We have 10 height adjustable desks available. These desks are for trial only and may not be the size you purchase for your everyday use. Most of our loaner desks have no keyboard trays.

What are the dimensions of the desks?

  • DESK #1                  23 x 58       large
  • DESK #2 w/ tray       29 x 46       medium
  • DESK #3 w/ tray       23 x 34       small
  • DESK #4                  23 x 34       small
  • DESK #5                  24 x 36       small
  • DESK #6                  23 X 34       small
  • DESK #7/ no tray      23 x 34       small
  • Desk # 8 / no tray    23 x 34        small
  • Desk # 9 / no tray    23 x 34        small
  • Desk # 10 / no tray  23 x 34        small

Why do most of the loaner desks come with no keyboard tray?

We do have a couple of loaner desks with keyboard trays in our program but most people prefer the sit/stand desks without a keyboard tray: they adjust the overall height of the desk to make sure that they are working with their wrists, elbows and shoulders at the right angle.

Why are the desks so small?

We also have different sizes of desks available but have deliberately bought more of the smallest versions. The loaner desks need to be moved often so having smaller desks helps reduce the weight for our Distribution staff who are doing the heavy lifting. In addition, it is much easier to accommodate a small loaner desk in an office where there is already a regular desk present. We understand you might need a bigger desk but hopefully the smaller desk gives you a flavour of what it is like to work on a sit/stand desk. Once you order a desk, you will have a wide range of size options available.

How will the desk be delivered to my office?

You will need to submit a FMIS request to FMGT after you receive the memo from HR advising that a desk is available. If you do not have access to FMIS please connect with your department administrator.

If I receive a loaner desk, what happens to my current desk?

You will have to store the desk in your office space. FMGT does not provide temporary storage.

How to I purchase a sit-stand desk?

Your department will need to submit a FMIS request to FMGT. If you have questions about this process please contact FMGT: http://www.uvic.ca/facilities/service/contact/index.php

Frequently asked questions - Ergonomics

How do I request a site visit?

In most cases, individual site visits to adjust someone’s workstation (i.e. keyboard, chair, etc.) or check their existing set-up, have been replaced with Online Office Ergonomics Course. 

After taking the course and going through ourresources, the Work Life Consultant may schedule a follow-up visit to individual workstations to ensure that the appropriate changes have been made and assist with the ordering of any suggested furniture.

How do I register for Ergonomics training?

The course: Office Ergonomics Videos can be found in Brightspace.