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What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of adapting the work environment to fit the employee so the work is safe and efficient. It focuses on designing workstations, tools and tasks for safety, efficiency, and comfort. Efficient ergonomic designs and work practices reduce occupational injuries, discomfort and fatigue, and improve productivity and employee job satisfaction.

Why is Ergonomics Important?

Ergonomics is important because when you’re doing a job and your body is stressed by an awkward posture, extreme temperature, or repeated movement your musculoskeletal system is affected. Your body may begin to have symptoms such as fatigue, discomfort, and pain, which can be the first signs of a musculoskeletal disorder.

What is a Musculoskeletal Disorder?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are conditions that affect your body’s muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. MSDs can develop over time or can occur immediately due to overload. Either way, they can lead to pain, injury, and a drop in worker efficiency and job satisfaction.

UC Merced's Ergonomics Program

The UC Merced Office of Environmental Health & Safety has implemented an online assessment/training tool called Ergonomic Computer Assisted Training, or ErgoCat, using the Healthy Working program. ErgoCat's goal is to prevent repetitive motion injuries associated with ergonomic risks of computer use and conserve human and fiscal resources.

EH&S can also offer help to people working in labs or at other jobs requiring lifting or other strenuous tasks.

For more information about ErgoCat or the Ergonomics Program, contact us at

Setting Up Your Workstation

Don't forget to take a 5-minute movement and stretch break* away from your computer every hour!

Remember these basics while stretching:

  • Pain is not gain! Stretch until you feel a mild tension that relaxes as you hold the stretch. If a stretch hurts, ease up on the amount of stretch. Stop doing the stretch if you can not do it without pain.
  • Don't bounce! Hold each stretch 5 to 30 seconds.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply while you stretch.

*Consult your health care provider before beginning a stretching program if you have had any recent surgery, muscle or joint problems.

UC Workgroup Studies