What is ergonomics, and why does it matter to your business?

Something as simple as repetitive reaching to pull items from an overhead shelf may have a detrimental effect on the body and lead to a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). MSDs are soft-tissue injuries caused by sudden or sustained exposure to repetitive motion, force, vibration or awkward positions. These disorders can affect muscles, nerves, tendons, joints and cartilage in the limbs, neck and back, and are common in virtually every industry. (1)

Some examples of MSDs include (2):

  • Muscle strains and low back injuries
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff injuries

Preventing injury through proper ergonomics
The frequency and severity of MSDs in the workplace can be substantially reduced by applying ergonomic principles. Ergonomics is the process of making adjustments to fit a job to a person. (2)

The success of your ergonomics program depends upon a strong commitment by management to become informed, provide training and encourage employee participation in identifying hazards and developing solutions. It’s also important to regularly evaluate progress, make necessary changes and encourage early reporting of pain or any symptoms that may indicate an MSD.

Refer to OSHA for standards and training assistance with your ergonomics program. Here are three important areas of concentration (3):

  • Implement engineering controls and other physical changes to the workplace that may eliminate or reduce hazards. An example would be a lifting device to reposition heavy objects.
  • Establish administrative and work procedures, such as requiring heavy loads to be lifted by two people, or designing a job rotation system so employees get a break from certain repetitive motions.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for proper use. Examples include helmets, goggles and protective garments.

Online safety training videos

Our insureds and agents have access to an extensive library of online safety training videos and supplemental materials. Click here to view this month’s recommended video, Understanding & Controlling Ergonomic Risk Factors. Insureds and agents can request login credentials by emailing SafetyResourceRequest@summitholdings.com. (Videos provided through Long Island Productions, Inc., dba Training Network NOW, a Summit Vendor)


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/msd/default.html
  2. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/index.html
  3. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/controlhazards.html
The information presented in this publication is intended to provide guidance and is not intended as a legal interpretation of any federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations applicable to your business. The loss prevention information provided is intended only to assist policyholders of Summit managed insurers in the management of potential loss producing conditions involving their premises and/or operations based on generally accepted safe practices. In providing such information, Summit Consulting LLC does not warrant that all potential hazards or conditions have been evaluated or can be controlled. It is not intended as an offer to write insurance for such conditions or exposures. The liability of Summit Consulting LLC and its managed insurers is limited to the terms, limits and conditions of the insurance policies underwritten by any of them.