The University of Waterloo's Ergonomics Program was developed to provide a resource to help staff and faculty correct ergonomic issues in their individual work areas. The program also provides education and ergonomic assessments upon request through the Safety Office.
The University of Waterloo shall provide information and guidance to workers and managers regarding ergonomic hazards in the workplace. The focus will be on how to prevent, control and report musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) in the workplace.
Considerations will be given to:
|Hazard Prevention Disciplines||Description|
|Engineering Controls||The method of designing/re-designing the work environment and equipment to minimize hazards or reduce the exposure to hazards.|
|Administrative Controls||The method of changing administrative procedures to minimize exposure to hazards in the workplace.|
|Work Practice Controls||Procedures that reduce the likelihood of exposure to hazards by altering the way in which a task is performed.|
Regulatory Requirements and Standards
Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act
The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is an act that is enforced by the law to ensure the safety of all workers from health and safety hazards on the job. It sets out duties to all workplace parties and rights for workers. Under section 25 (2) h, the employer must take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances of the worker – this includes ergonomic considerations.
Regulations for Industrial Establishments
The Regulations for Industrial Establishments is a regulation under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that is put in place to ensure the safety of workers in industrial establishments. Please click on the link below to learn more about material handling in the workplace
- Section 45: Material Handling
Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO) Musculoskeletal Disorder Prevention Guideline
The Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO) has provided these guidelines regarding the topic of Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention in the workplace.
- Part 1: Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention guideline for Ontario (PDF)
- Part 2: Resource Manual for the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario (PDF)
- Part 3A: MSD Prevention Toolbox - Getting started (PDF)
- Part 3B: MSD Prevention Toolbox - Beyond the basics (PDF)
Roles and Responsibilities
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the supervisor is the individual most directly responsible for the safety of workers. Supervisors must ensure the following duties are met:
- Hazards associated with the work being performed and the work environment have been identified
- The risk associated with all identified hazards are eliminated or minimized
- Work is performed and the work environment is kept within the scope of the governing legislation and applicable standards
- Hazards associated with the work performed and the work environment are communicated to those performing it.
- Workers are competent to perform the work they have been assigned
- Report and investigate incidents, including those resulting from ergonomic hazards
Ergonomic hazards workers may be exposed to must be identified and considered by supervisors. Where multiple risks are identified, efforts are required to reduce the hazards.
The Safety Office acts on behalf of the University of Waterloo to support legislative requirements, and the overall reduction of risk to workers, students, faculty and visitors. It is a resource for the University of Waterloo that recommends best practices and standards to minimize risk by interpreting legislation and standards and developing tools to assist supervisors and workers performing work on campus. Some of the resources the Safety Office provides includes:
- Web-based and classroom training courses
- Consultations on legislative requirements
- Ergonomic assessments
- Physical demands analysis
- Assistance with accident and incident investigations
The Safety Office does not make things safe, its role is to provide assistance to supervisors and other stakeholders to assess the work performed in order to control and minimize risks.
Workers are expected to:
- Report any hazards, incidents, or injuries to their direct supervisor
- Follow all procedures as written or required for the work they are performing
- Follow all legislative requirements as prescribed
- Attend any training sessions deemed necessary to complete their work in a competent manner
Joint Health & Safety Committee
The Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is a volunteer group of individuals from various faculties at the University of Waterloo representing workers and management. Its main function is to monitor safety risks and act in an advisory role to the Safety Office. The pro-active workplace inspections and accident reports, the JHSC monitors the presence of ergonomic hazards on campus and may make recommendations for change where the JHSC deems it is necessary.
Ergonomics is the science of fitting the work environment to the people who do the work. It looks at the interaction between humans and other aspects of the work environment, and strives to match the abilities and characteristics of people with the tasks they perform.
The tasks can be divided into three main categories:
The demand of your job can have a combination of these three. Therefore, please visit each site for more information.
Ergonomic Training, Assessment & Equipment Catalogue
The Safety Office offers ergonomic assessments to staffs of the University of Waterloo. When doing an ergonomic assessment, a review of the entire workstation is conducted. This is to ensure there are not issues within the workstation that may or could be causing employee difficulties. The 30 minutes review includes an evaluation of the existing furniture, and the settings of any adjustable components on the furniture (e.g. chair, keyboard tray, monitor etc). We also review the individuals posture, positioning and work habits within the workstation. The Safety Office also provides group ergonomic training sessions for faculty and departments. Please visit the Training and assessment page for more information.
The Safety Office offers an Equipment Catalogue that encompasses a variety of chairs, mice, keyboards and accessories that have been researched and concluded to provide ergonomic benefits for the office environment. When searching for ergonomic products, these products are trustworthy and we, the Safety Office, highly recommend and support them. If you have further questions, please contact Andrew Scheifele of the Safety Office.
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS)
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (1996). Office ergonomics safety guide. (Publication No. P96-8E). Hamilton, ON: Author.
- Cornell University ergonomics web
- Ontario Minister of Labour. Ergonomics
- Ontario Ministry of Labour. Computer ergonomics workstation layout and lighting. Health and safety guidelines (PDF)
- WorkSafe BC. How to make your computer workstation fit you (PDF)
- Canadian Standards Association (2000). Guideline on office ergonomics. (Publication No. CAN/CSA - Z412-00). Toronto, ON: Author.