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All About Ergonomics

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 ErgoCAT team of UC Merced focuses on preventing employee injuries caused by overuse and poor positioning of work equipment. To do so, we have partnered with the Be Smart About Safety Foundation, which helps us provide staff and faculty with in-person ergonomic evaluations and vouchers to purchase recommended equipment. Even though some of these resources are only for staff and faculty, we encourage undergraduate and graduate students to take the RSS ergonomic self-assessment, which will give you a unique report and trainings to help you adjust your workspace to your body.

If you have any questions regarding the program, please contact us at, or call 209-500-9301.

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