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Mailroom Ergonomics: 

Mailroom Ergonomics Mail Services May 27, 2004

Ergonomic Related Injuries: 

Ergonomic Related Injuries May be called: CTD’s (cumulative trauma disorders) RSI’s (repetitive stress injuries) RMI’s (repetitive motion injuries) Which are all considered: MSD’s (musculoskeletal disorders) MSD’s can affect muscles, tendons, nerves, joints and spinal disks.

Common types of MSD’s: 

Common types of MSD’s Tendonitis Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Tennis Elbow Neck and Back injuries Strains/Sprains Bursitis Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Trigger finger

Identifying Risk Factors: 

Identifying Risk Factors What is a risk factor? Conditions or circumstances that increase the chance of developing a MSD. The likelihood of developing an injury is dependent on the frequency and duration of exposure to risk factors. Both occupational and personal risk factors can affect an individuals well being at home or work.

Specific Risk Factors and Causes of MSD’s : 

Specific Risk Factors and Causes of MSD’s Repetition Force Awkward Posture Static Posture Contact Stress Temperature Extremes Vibration Psycho Social

Neutral Standing Posture : 

Neutral Standing Posture Imagine a line that goes through your ear, shoulder, and hip Abnormal curves in the spine result from poor posture, genetics, and injuries


Repetition Occurs when the same or similar movements are performed frequently. Repetition can also occur when different tasks are performed if those tasks have the same movements. Injury may result from repetition when the tissues do not have adequate time to recover.


Force Force is the amount of physical effort required by a person to do a task or maintain control of tools or equipment. A pinch grip produces 3-5 times more force on the tendons in the wrist than a grip with the whole hand. With excessive force the muscles are contracting much harder than normal, this can lead to stress on the muscles, tendons and joints.

Awkward Postures: 

Awkward Postures Is a deviation from the “neutral” body position. A “neutral” body position is safest and most efficient position in which to work. Awkward posture puts stress on muscles, tendons and joints.

Static Posture: 

Static Posture Static posture occurs when one position is held for a prolonged period of time. The muscles will become fatigued from a lack of blood flow during a static posture. This fatigue can lead to discomfort and even injury.

Prolonged Standing Risks: 

Prolonged Standing Risks Prolonged stationary standing can result in… Decreased blood flow to tissues Swelling Muscle fatigue Pain Sore feet Loss of optimal posture Increased intra-disc pressure in lower back

Contact Stress: 

Contact Stress Contact stress is caused by any sharp or hard object putting localized pressure on a part of the body. Contact stress will irritate local tissues and interfere with circulation and nerve function.

Temperature Extremes: 

Temperature Extremes Environmental conditions such as extreme heat or cold can place stress on tissues. Extreme cold constricts blood vessels and reduces sensitivity and coordination of body parts. Excessive heat can result in increased fatigue and heat stress.


Vibration Exposure to vibration can occur while using power tools or while driving equipment. Vibration from power tools can place stress on the tissues of the fingers, hand and arms. Whole body vibration from driving puts stress on the spinal tissues.


Psycho-social Stress, boredom, job dissatisfaction and anxiety can contribute to the possibility of developing a MSD. Psycho-social issues can create increased muscle tension and reduce a person’s awareness of work technique.

When to Choose Standing: 

When to Choose Standing The task(s) cannot be performed with arms comfortably at sides - e.g. frequent reaches Considerable movement required away from or within workstation Heavy lifting and handling tasks Work surface does not allow comfortable position of legs under surface because of an obstruction

Foot Rests : 

Foot Rests Encourage a proper posture Alternate feet Appropriate height/depth At a counter, just open the cupboard door and step inside

Anti-Fatigue Matting: 

Anti-Fatigue Matting Preferred over concrete floors Encourage body to naturally sway Subtle movement of calves and leg muscles Less discomfort and fatigue Ensure proper installation to reduce tripping and falling

Feet and Shoes : 

Feet and Shoes Wear shoes that: Are comfortable! Do not change the shape of your foot Allow freedom to move your toes Have adequate arch support Have some heel - but not higher than 2 inches

High Stools : 

High Stools Option to sit down during slow periods Workstation is designed for standing, with an adjustable high stool for sitting e.g. shipping and receiving, mailroom, cashiers, computer technicians

Leaning Postures- Sit/Stand Stool : 

Leaning Postures- Sit/Stand Stool Little clearance under work surface Some weight can be transferred to a partially supported posture Helps to avoid fatigue from standing, e.g. library

Guidelines for Arm Distances When Standing : 

Guidelines for Arm Distances When Standing Precision work Approx. 2 inches above elbow height Light work - Approx. elbow height Heavy work - Elbow to waist height

Summary - Standing: 

Summary - Standing DON’TS: Stand in one position for long periods Lean forward or slouch Wear inappropriate shoes DO’S: Change positions regularly (e.g sit/stand, walk) Raise work to appropriate height Use a foot stool Use anti-fatigue matting

Manual Material Handling: 

Manual Material Handling Moving or handling things by: Lifting/Lowering Carrying Pushing/Pulling Holding

Manual Material Handling: 

Manual Material Handling Most common cause of: Occupational fatigue Low back pain Lower back injuries

Potential Hazards: 

Potential Hazards Material/Load Conditions Employee

Material/Load: Weight : 

Material/Load: Weight Standing vs. sitting - can safely handle a weight 5x as large in standing as in sitting Reduce the weight Modify size, shape, and/or number of objects

Material/Load: Storage: 

Material/Load: Storage Placement of materials to ensure: – Twisting and bending is minimized – Handling of objects between mid-thigh and shoulder height – Reduce the distance the load is carried – Store heavier loads at waist level

Material/Load - Handling: 

Material/Load - Handling Use more than one person, or a handling aid (carts, hand trucks, mechanical) Accommodates a larger range of employee heights

Moving Odd Shaped Items: 

Moving Odd Shaped Items Always use the appropriate device for moving items Cylinder moves require the use of a specialized hand truck Removing cylinders from trucks requires the use of a ramp

Cylinder handling: 

Cylinder handling Cylinders must have valve protection caps on during delivery, storage and pick-up Never lay a cylinder on its side Always store according to compatibility

Potential Solutions - Employee: 

Potential Solutions - Employee Good Body Mechanics - Basic Lift: 1. Test the load 2. Plan the move 3. Use a wide, balanced stance, one foot ahead of the other 4. Bring the load as close to the body as possible 5. Maintain the neutral curve in the low back - tighten abdominals, set back muscles, keep head and shoulders up 6. Lift with the legs and stand up in a smooth, even motion 7. Move the feet (pivot) if a direction change is necessary

Golfer’s Lift: 

Golfer’s Lift Small, light objects; in deep bins - Recommended for people with knee problems, or decreased leg strength

Tripod Lift: 

Tripod Lift Use for objects with uneven weight distribution or for those with decreased arm strength 1.) Raise bag upright 2.) Put 1 knee against bag 3.) Pull bag up the leg 4.) Rest bag on opposite knee 5.) Stand upright 6.) Carry in upright position

Straight Leg Lift: 

Straight Leg Lift If obstacles prevent you from bending your knees Don’t bend your back! Bend at the hips

Frequency and Duration: 

Frequency and Duration Use different muscle groups and vary your posture (sitting, standing, walking) every hour Vary the physical intensity of the work Introduce task rotation

Summary - Manual Material Handling: 

Summary - Manual Material Handling DO’S: Use appropriate body mechanics Reduce the weight of the load Make the load easier to handle Use storage techniques to ease MMH Reduce the number of lifts Reduce the distance a load is carried DON’TS: Twist during MMH Bend forward or to the side Lift/move a load with outstretched arms Carry loads long distances


STRETCHES Stretching can help to ease the discomforts and harmful effects of repetitive motions and awkward or static postures. It is important to stretch out frequently.

Stretches - Standing: 

Stretches - Standing If you have been sitting, stooped or bending forward during your work tasks, stretch and bend backwards. Stand upright, put your hands firmly on your lower back for support, and bend backwards several times.

Standing Stretches: 

Standing Stretches These are some stretches that you can do while standing. When stretching, remember: * Movements should be slow and controlled. * You should feel a gentle stretch of the muscle - stretching should not be painful. * Once you feel a stretch, hold the position 10-15 seconds - do not bounce or jerk. * Repeat each stretch 2 or 3 times.

More Stretches: 

More Stretches You can vary your posture and stretch in standing or sitting. If you have been sitting for a long time, stand up and stretch. If you have been working in a standing position, do stretches sitting down.


Review Ergonomics is fitting workplace demands to employees. MSD’s and identifying risk factors The use of common practices and engineering controls to reduce risk Manual material handling risk factors and minimizing risk

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