What is an Ergonomic Evaluation?

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  • Written By: Marisa O'Connor
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2018
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An ergonomic evaluation uses the science of ergonomics to determine the physical relationship of the worker to his or her work station. The purpose of the evaluation is to increase workplace comfort and productivity as well as prevent repetitive strain injuries. Every individual has different ergonomic needs and so should align his or her work station with those needs.

Many work environments require repetitive movement or remaining in one position for long periods of time. Often, these positions or movements are not the way human muscles and joints are supposed to function. Over time, the continuous strain can cause serious injury and even disability. An ergonomic evaluation can detect what adjustments should be made in order to prevent injury. Injury prevention also means worker compensation savings to the employer.

Not only can ignorance about ergonomics lead to injury, but it can also drain the body of energy and cause discomfort. When the body is working in an uncomfortable position, even mild symptoms can cause distraction from the work at hand. The person's focus will likely keep shifting back to his or her discomfort. An ergonomic evaluation can show how to get more work done with the body and mind in harmony.


Common tools used during an ergonomics evaluation include an ergonomic checklist, a goniometer, which measure angles, and a digital camera. The checklist is used to ensure a thorough evaluation. A tape measure and goniometer are used for accuracy. The digital camera is used to keep a visual record of posture and environment. The camera can also be very helpful in showing the person what his or her working posture looks like.

Desk design, height, and organization are assessed during an office ergonomic evaluation. Chair adjustment as well as working posture are considered. The computer monitor's position and angle in relation to the employee's eye-line are observed. Keyboard and mouse position and the elevation of the wrist when using these tools are also noted during evaluation. Finally, the overall posture is assessed to eliminate strain so the joints are comfortably and naturally aligned.

An ergonomic evaluation is best done by the trained eye of an ergonomic consultant. There are, however, ergonomic tests available for people who prefer to self-evaluate. The ergonomic consultant has the advantage of seeing the worker in his or her work station and can see angles and posture much more objectively. Having someone in the work environment trained in ergonomic evaluation can also be very helpful. This person will be able to track the progress of any changes recommended by the consultant.

Ergonomic evaluation can also help rule out the work environment as a cause for symptoms. A proper assessment will look for other possibilities for the symptoms if it isn't obvious that the problem is ergonomics related. For example, if a person is suffering shoulder pain that is constant and the work station doesn't appear to be problematic, the symptoms may be primarily caused by a hobby or even sleeping habits.



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