Faculty, staff, and students can prevent ergonomic-related injuries by following best practices for working at desks and lab stations, and for lifting and handling materials. Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) offers self-service checklists, training, and consultations to help you set up an ergonomically correct work environment to decrease the likelihood of experiencing physical discomfort or injury.

All 4 steps below must be completed in order to be scheduled for an individual consultation:

 1. Triage:  Does EHS provide services to you?

  1.  I am seeing a physician, chiropractor or therapist currently.  EHS does not provide service to you.  Please click here for re-referral to the Medical Ergonomics program.
  2.  I work for the health system.  EHS does not provide service to you.  Please email
  3.  I am an Ann Arbor Campus or Medical school employee.  EHS does provide service to you ONLY if you complete the additional steps below.

2. View eLearning module best suited to your request:

  1.  Office based ergonomics (20 minutes).  Please view in presentation mode with enabled content
  2.  Sit to Stand Office Based best practice (10 minutes).  Please view in presentation mode with enabled content.

3.  Quiz to demonstrate learning

  1.  Office based ergonomic quiz (10 minutes)
  2.  Sit to Stand Office quiz (10 minutes)

Please note: A sit to stand office consultation does not guarantee that you will obtain a sit to stand desk or desk modifier.  As with any ergonomic consultation, decisions about equipment modifications are made based on the need of the individual and the funding available from the department, which is asked to pay for these modifications.

4.  Complete an Ergonomics Services Request Form

Computer Ergonomics

Each individual and workstation are different.  Adjust your own work environment using the following steps.  These adjustments tend to work for many individuals; however, if implementing these changes does not provide relief from discomfort, let the ergonomic representative from your area know during your consultation.

  • Adjusting your chair
  1. Move your chair away from your desk and pretend the desk does not exist to adjust the chair to fit YOU.
  2. Adjust the height of the chair so your feet are comfortably flat on the floor.
  3. Adjust the seat depth so you have 2-3 finger widths between the front edge of the chair and your calf.
  4. Raise or lower the backrest height to fit comfortably in the low back at your beltline.
  5. Move the armrests down completely. Relax your shoulders, then bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
  6. Hold your elbow there and raise the armrest to support your arm in that position without pushing your shoulders up.
  • Adjusting your keyboard tray

Roll up to the desk or keyboard tray, then complete the action relevant to your situation:

Higher than the armrests Try one of the following solutions:

  • Lower the keyboard tray height
  • Raise the height of the chair so that the armrests are approximately the same height as the desk and use a footrest to support your legs and feet
Lower than the armrests Try one of the following solutions:

  • Raise the keyboard tray height to be approximately the same height as the armrests
  • Raise the desk
  • Adjusting your monitor

NOTE:  Adjust the height of your monitor last.

Do not wear glasses Your eyes without tipping your head up or down to facilitate a slightly downward gaze of the eyes, which is ideal.
Wear single lenses or contacts Your eyes without tipping your head up or down to facilitate a slightly downward gaze of the eyes, which is ideal.
Wear bifocals, progressive lenses, or trifocals The middle section of your glasses to avoid tilting the head up to see the screen.

Supplemental Information

Laboratory Ergonomics

Poor posture when using pipettes, microscopes and other laboratory equipment can cause employees to feel discomfort.  Since laboratory space is typically used by a variety of employees, designing a space that works best for everyone is what ergonomics does.

Using ergonomic equipment helps:

  • Reduce compression on the arms and elbows
  • Improve posture
  • Alleviate stress on the low back
  • Reduce discomfort in the wrist and thumb

Supplemental Information

Lifting and Material Handling Ergonomics

Back injuries are closely associated with lifting heavy materials.  Eighty (80) percent of people will experience low back discomfort significant enough to visit their doctor sometime during their career.  Although learning how to lift heavy items while reducing your risk of injury is helpful, it is always better to engineer out risks associated with heavy lifting.  This means using carts and lifts instead of your body to handle heavy loads.  Ergonomics can help identify engineering solutions to reduce lifting materials.

Lifting and Material Handling Ergonomics Training

EHS offers ergonomic presentations to U-M faculty and staff free of charge.  Presentations are customized to your needs but address the following issues:

  • Ergonomic risk factors during lifting and handling
  • Why the back gets injured
  • Simple adjustments to reduce risks and associated discomfort

Supplemental Information:

MHealthy Back Care Web site