Supervisors must be reasonable in expectations of employees doing lifting or other activities that might cause the employee injury. For employees working in office-like environments, supervisors need to make certain that the employee understands the good work practices that will help prevent repetitive stress disorders.
At this time, there is no specific OSHA regulation addressing Ergonomics, but employers are cited under the general duty clause for not providing a safe work environment.
Keys to Compliance for Supervisors
- If employees are expected to do lifting or other physical labor, the supervisor must make certain the load to be lifted does not exceed the employee’s capabilities; a maximum of 50 pounds for a healthy, adult male is the maximum recommended by NIOSH
- If more than 50 pounds must be lifted, at least two persons are needed.
- Supervisors are responsible for making certain employees understand the weight limits, and how to lift properly; assistance and training can be provided by EHS.
- For employees working at computer workstations for extended periods, the supervisor should make reasonable modification for an ergonomically-correct work station, and ensure employees understand ergonomically correct work practices; assistance can be provided by EHS.
- If an employee reports pain from lifting, twisting, or repetitive motions, the supervisor should call EHS for an assessment aimed at improving the situation.
Q. What is the Supervisor’s responsibility in avoiding ergonomic injuries to employees?
A. The supervisor should not expect an employee to lift more than his/her capabilities; the supervisor should request assistance from EHS in assessing the employee’s work practices, the physical tools to be used, and the general work environment to prevent ergonomic injuries.
Links to Written Programs, Further Information