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Rochester Institute of Technology

Another Staff Benefit – the Workplace Ergonomics Lab

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Have you been finding your desk or chair somewhat uncomfortable? Are you feeling any eyestrain, pain in your wrists, or other discomfort you suspect may be related to your workstation? Or would you like to borrow a piece of equipment (such as a chair, keyboard tray, document holders, or foot rest) to see how it works for you? Then the Workplace Ergonomics Lab (WEL) is the place to go.

Located in Louise Slaughter Hall (the CIMS building), the WEL is administered by Tracy Freas. Tracy studied industrial engineering and ergonomics here at RIT and is now a Senior Staff Engineer. She has performed workplace ergonomics assessments and training sessions for over 5500 workers in manufacturing, retail, and health care. Here at RIT she provides ergonomics assistance, training, and product recommendations to staff upon department or individual request. She has also developed a brochure, WEL’s Office Ergonomics Guidelines, which gives tips for workstation placement as well as stretching exercises. The brochure may be requested from the WEL (phone 475-5807), or our Wellness Coach, Sue Grace, may have some to hand out when she does her rounds.

I recently requested an ergonomics assessment because I had been noticing minor neck and wrist pain that I thought might be attributable to the placement of my desk equipment. (Note to those who would like to request an assessment: please speak to your supervisor first, as he or she will have to sign off on the form you fill out, and the ergonomic recommendations will be sent on to Human Resources.) Tracy sent me a form to fill out detailing where I experienced discomfort and at what level. Then a few days later she came over and looked at my workstation. In my case, I did not need to add new equipment – in fact I had to get rid of one of my old pieces of equipment, a keyboard tray, which due to its placement was causing my wrists to angle upward when I typed. She also recommended that I move my dual monitors down so that my eyes hit them near the top of the screen. That didn't immediately make sense to me, but when I tried it, I definitely noticed I wasn’t craning my neck upward anymore. She also made recommendations for stretching exercises I should perform at my volunteer job (doing cat care at Lollypop Farm).

I implemented her recommendations immediately after she left, and I could notice the difference right away. I am definitely glad I took advantage of the WEL’s services.

Occasionally Tracy Freas offers office ergonomics training sessions through the Center for Professional Development (call CPD at 475-5313 to find out when the next one will be).