ES&H Manual



6106 Appendix T2

Industrial Ergonomics Guidelines



1.0             Purpose


Preventable ergonomic injuries are hazard issues that commonly exist in an industrial setting. The purpose of this appendix is to provide individuals with industrial ergonomics safety guidelines.  


2.0             Scope


These guidelines apply to biomechanical industrial tasks. “Biomechanical” refers to tasks that are performed by using the body. “Industrial” refers to tasks performed away from an office setting. Examples of biomechanical industrial tasks include:

·         Prolonged repetitive motion

·         Forceful or prolonged exertion of the hands

·         Frequent or heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying of heavy objects

·         Awkward postures

·         Overhead work

·         Twisting and carrying loads

·         Wrist deviation

·         Awkward shoulder and wrist position

·         Lifting bulky loads (e.g., large, heavy, awkwardly shaped)

·         Hand and arm vibration

·         Whole body vibration

·         Distant reaching


The risk stemming from such tasks can be increased by additional variables such as temperature (see ES&H Manual Chapter 6670 Heat and Cold Stress Mitigation Program). Other considerations affecting the safety of biomechanical industrial tasks include unfamiliarity with the task, machine pacing, sufficiency of rest breaks, and more.

This appendix is written in coordination with ES&H Manual Chapter 6106 Ergonomics Program to assist in improving the safety of biomechanical industrial tasks and to help decide whether to request assistance through an individualized industrial ergonomic consultation.

3.0             Responsibilities

Responsibilities are outlined in ES&H Manual Chapter 6106 Ergonomics Program.


Anyone at Jefferson Lab can request an ergonomics consultation. As a matter of best practice, it is desirable to request a consultation for prevention purposes, rather than waiting until an injury occurs.


4.0             Industrial Ergonomics Consultations


Industrial job tasks at Jefferson Lab are unique and varied, so it is not practical to provide one detailed set of procedures for safe performance of all of these tasks. The details of ergonomically excellent procedures vary with each specific task.   

Given this, job specific ergonomic consultations provided by Occupational Medicine (Occ. Med.) warrant consideration. These individualized consultations can be highly value adding and safety enhancing by creating improvements that often allow employees to work faster, more efficiently, and more comfortably. Consultations do not cost significant time and yet they forward the Lab’s safety culture by emphasizing Integrated Safety Management Core Function 2 (Analyze the Hazards) and Core Function 3 (Develop and Implement Hazard Controls).

Because of these facts, it is wise to follow a philosophy of, “If in doubt, request an ergonomics consultation”. Do not hesitate to call Occ. Med. for advice about whether a consultation should be requested. In addition, the following guidelines and principles can help individuals decide whether to request a consultation:  

4.1              General Considerations

·         Previous injury related to the same, or a similar, task as the one under consideration.

·         Employee expresses concern about the safety of a task.

·         Employee thinks the task might be safer or more efficient with changes. Is there a potential opportunity for improvement?

·         Duration of the task is prolonged and there are normal breaks and rest periods, but no task rotation or variety. For instance, the task is performed for an entire day.


4.2              Biomechanical Factors

“Ergonomics” primarily refers to the process of “fitting” the task to the worker. The most important principles of ergonomics are to minimize the following:

·         FORCE: reducing the amount of force exerted by the body part in question.

·         ANGLE: decreasing the amount that a joint bends from neutral position. A primary goal of ergonomics is to maximize the percentage of time that the body is in “neutral position”. The most neutral position for a given joint is often approximately half way through its range of motion.

·         FREQUENCY: decreasing the amount of repetition.

Specific biomechanical requirements of a task that affect whether to request a consultation primarily relate to those three factors. For instance, the following task characteristics can trigger the need for a consultation: 


Task Characteristic

Biomechanical Factors

Heavy lifting is required.


Frequent bending of more than 45 degrees at the waist from a standing position is needed.

Angle and frequency

Awkward posture is needed frequently. For example, kneeling, squatting, deep bending, wrist flexion, twisting, etc.

Angle and frequency

Prolonged static posture (periods in one position without the ability to change position) is needed. For instance, leaning 10 degrees over an object for 15 minutes at a time.


Frequent placement of hands above shoulder height.

Angle and frequency

Repetitive motion is required to perform the same task for longer than 5 minutes at a time. For example, wrenching, drilling or sanding for 5 continuous minutes several times a day.


Repetitive forceful gripping is needed. For instance, crimping for 5 minutes at a time.

Force and frequency

Forceful rotation of a hand or arm is needed.


4.3                 Heavy Lifting

If a task involves lifting that is potentially unsafe, a consultation should be requested. Determining whether a lift is safe or not involves consideration of many variables, including weight of the load. The Lab-wide lifting limit is 40 lbs. when all conditions are ideal and the steps in safe lifting can be followed. These important details are explained in Safe Lifting Training (MED05). If the safe lifting steps or other principles explained in this training cannot be followed, an industrial ergonomics consultation should be requested.


4.4                 Impact of Ergonomic Consultations on Work Flow and Productivity

Consultations can affect workflow and productivity. For instance, ergonomic improvements often save time by improving efficiency, but in some cases improvements have a neutral net impact on the speed of task performance.  Occasionally consultations recommend work practice controls that lengthen a task. Overall, most ergonomic improvements save time.  

On a deeper level, ergonomic improvements are critical safety controls that have obvious value that transcends other considerations such as faster, but less safe task performance. Even when safer work practices “cost” time in the short run, injuries and decreased employee satisfaction take more time in the long run than corner-cutting saves.

5.0             References


The following links to resources from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provide guidance about specific ergonomic topics:


·         A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools

Non-powered hand tools are widely used in a variety of job tasks. This NIOSH guide presents the ergonomics basics of hand tool use and helps identify non-powered hand tools that are less likely to cause injury.


·         Ergonomics Guidelines for Manual Material Handling

Manual material handling work can contribute to musculoskeletal disorders, often involving strains and sprains to the lower back, shoulders, and upper limbs. This NIOSH publication provides effective ergonomic interventions and improvement options that can lower the physical demands of manual material handling work tasks.


·         Ergonomics Guidelines for Electrical Employees

This OSHA site provides an electronic tool that describes common hazards electrical workers may encounter and provides possible solutions for these hazards.


·         Ergonomics for Construction Workers

To aid in the prevention of injuries related to construction work, this NIOSH booklet provides guidance to make construction tasks easier, more comfortable, and better suited to the needs of the human body.


6.0             Revision Summary


Revision 1.0 – 03/28/19 – Periodic Review; added Industrial Ergonomic Consultations; updated references

Revision 0.0 – 03/13/14 – New content developed to reflect current laboratory operations










ES&H Division

Smitty Chandler





This document is controlled as an on line file.  It may be printed but the print copy is not a controlled document.  It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that the document is the same revision as the current on line file.  This copy was printed on 3/28/2019.