Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)

Department

Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson

Keywords

Cumulative Trauma Disorders; Occupational Health

Abstract

Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with adapting a workplace environment to match the capabilities of a worker and ensure the worker's safety. The study of ergonomics is one of increasing interest to American business. Specifically, the ergonomics of the office computer workstation has come under growing scrutiny due to a tremendous rise in the reported incidence of work related injuries. Workers, in this work environment, appear to be at a greater risk of injuries to the back, neck, shoulder, forearm, wrist, hand, and leg. These injuries, classified as cumulative trauma disorders or CTDs, can be attributed to ergonomic hazards such as poor workplace design, repetitive movements, awkward body mechanics, and prolonged static positions.

The impact of these ergonomic related injuries is being felt by many businesses in the form of increased workers' compensation and health insurance costs, decreased productivity, increased worker absenteeism, and often decreased worker morale.

Physical therapy can play an important role in helping reduce the effects of the growing problem of CTDs in the workplace. Consultation with employees and employers regarding education in proper body mechanics, posture, exercise, and workstation design is one way in which the physical therapist may aid in decreasing the incidence of work related injuries.

The purpose of this paper will be to give an overview of ergonomics and ergonomic related injuries in the computer office workstation. This review will be done to examine the effects that these injuries have on employees and employers alike, and any benefits that ergonomics may provide in the prevention of these injuries. These benefits are not only for the safety and comfort of a worker, but also for the profitability of a business.

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