OSHA Field Safety and Health Management System (SHMS) Manual


  1. Purpose

    Ensure ergonomic risk factors are managed to prevent work-related injuries or illnesses. The program will provide a framework for the activities that are necessary to identify, manage, control and eliminate ergonomic hazards in the workplace.

  2. Scope

    This program applies to all employees while performing official government business. The program is intended to address activities that require significant forces, awkward and static postures, repetitive motion, vibration and other work-related risk factors.

  3. Definitions
    1. Administrative Controls. Changes in the way that work in a job is assigned or scheduled that reduce the magnitude, frequency or duration of exposure to ergonomic risk factors.

    2. Ergonomics. The science of fitting jobs to people encompassing the body of knowledge about physical abilities and limitations as well as other human characteristics that are relevant to job design.

    3. Engineering Controls. Physical changes to a job that eliminate or reduce the presence of ergonomic hazards. Examples of engineering controls may include changing, modifying, or redesigning workstations, tools, facilities, equipment, materials or processes.

    4. Ergonomic Risk Factors. Aspects of a job that post a biomechanical stress to the employee, such as forceful exertion, repetition, awkward or static postures, contact stress and vibration.

    5. Ergonomic Injuries and Illnesses. Injuries and illnesses of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs. It does not include injuries caused by slips, trips, falls or other similar accidents. Examples of ergonomic injuries and illnesses include: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, De Quervain’s disease, Sciatica, Epicondylitis, Tendonitis, herniated spinal disc and low back pain.

    6. Signs and Symptoms. Objective physical findings or physical indications that an employee may be developing an ergonomic injury or illness.

  4. Responsibilities
    1. The responsible OSHA Manager(s) is designated to manage this Ergonomic Program and will ensure the following activities are completed.

      1. Ensure all employees are provided the opportunity to participate in the program.

      2. Conduct worksite analysis for ergonomic risk factors.

      3. Develop and implement feasible controls to reduce ergonomic hazards.

      4. Ensure implementation of the medical management program (Chapter 25) for diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses.

      5. Ensure training is provided on this program.

      6. Maintain worksite surveillance of the effectiveness of the program and develop action items as necessary.

    2. Employee Responsibilities

      1. Notify management of signs and symptoms of ergonomic injuries and illnesses and work-related ergonomic risk factors.

      2. Participate in all aspects of the program, such as submitting concerns related to risk factors, discussing work methods, offering suggestions in problem solving exercises, and participating in all related education and training.

    3. Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing (OOMN)

      1. Oversee and coordinate the medical management of ergonomic injury/illness cases.

      2. Provide final disposition of ergonomic injury/illness cases.

    4. Assistant Regional Administrator of Administrative Programs or equivalent unit

      1. Provide assistance to the Unit in the management of ergonomic injury or illness cases.

      2. Coordinate any work restrictions.

    5. Assistant Regional Administrator of Enforcement Programs or equivalent unit

      1. Provide assistance to the Unit in the management of the Ergonomic Program.

      2. Provide technical assistance in the evaluation and improvement of the work environment.

  5. Procedure
    1. Reporting Procedures

      1. Reported signs or symptoms of ergonomic injuries/illnesses must be recorded on the Incident Investigation and Hazard Reporting Worksheet by management and investigated for potential “quick fixes.” Ergonomic injuries or illnesses that meet the criteria for recordability under the Recordkeeping Standard must also be recorded on the OSHA 300 log.

        Note: A quick fix is an abatement method, which can be readily accomplished using Unit employees and budget.

      2. If the condition cannot be addressed via “quick fix,” the responsible OSHA Manager(s) will then decide on a course of action in consultation with expertise in the Regional Office.

      3. In the event long-term corrective actions are needed, the affected employee will be kept apprised regarding the status of the reported issue(s).

    2. Worksite Analysis

      1. Computer Workstation analyses will be documented initially and whenever significant changes in the worksite, employees, equipment, or job task are made. The analyses should include risk factors associated with force, repetition, awkward and static postures, contact stress, vibration, and other work-related risk factors. A useful tool is the OSHA Ergonomic Computer Workstation e-Tool. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/index.html

      2. Recognized and generally accepted worksite/task analysis methods could be used to evaluate the work-related risk factors. Examples include: the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Values for Physical Agents for Hand Activity Level, HandArm Vibration, and Whole-Body Vibration; The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Lifting Guideline; and Library Mutual Push/Pull tables, etc.

      3. Management will monitor the workplace to detect new or additional risk factors and ensure the adequacy of the completed analyses.

    3. Hazard Prevention and Control

      1. The standard hierarchy of controls to be followed is:

        1. Elimination;

        2. Engineering controls;

        3. Work practice or administrative controls;

        4. Personal protective equipment;

        5. Controls should be identified and implemented for work-related ergonomic hazards. Lifts during the loading of equipment into a motor vehicle is limited to 25 pounds per lift. All other lifts are limited to a maximum of 50 pounds.

    4. Medical Management

      1. Employees must report work-related ergonomic injuries and illnesses promptly via the Incident Investigation and Hazard Reporting Worksheet.

      2. Access to health care professionals will be in accordance with existing Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) policies.

      3. Information will be provided to the health care professionals about the job tasks and/or existing OWCP policies when directed by Assistant Regional Administrator of Administrative Programs/equivalent unit or OWCP.

      4. Management will provide restricted employees work that is consistent with the employee’s capabilities per existing policies.

    5. Education and Training

      1. Annual training on this Chapter will be provided and included:

        1. Ergonomic risk factors relative to the work.

        2. Controls used to minimize or eliminate ergonomic hazards.

        3. Signs and symptoms of ergonomic related injuries and illnesses.

        4. Reporting and recording procedures.

        5. The employee's role in evaluating the effectiveness of the ergonomic program.

    6. Program Evaluation

      1. The Unit will complete a review of all elements of this program annually.

      2. Develop action items for any changes or improvements.