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Occupational Health Branch

Ergonomics: Preventing Job-Related Pain

Do you or someone you know often feel pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in your neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, back, legs, or feet? If so, it may be a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). Do the symptoms get worse from working? If so, the problem may be a job-related MSD.

MSDs are injuries caused by wear and tear to the tendons, nerves, muscles, and joints. This can result from weight-bearing or awkward positions or repetitive movements. Job-related MSDs are responsible for about one-third of workers' compensation claims.

Many employers and workers are finding ways to design or arrange the workplace to prevent MSDs and allow workers to do their jobs more efficiently. This is called "fitting the job to the person" or ergonomics. The OHB resources below offer guidance for workers addressing job-related pain, for high-risk jobs, and for physicians treating pain.

Educational materials for specific occupations

Ergonomics and Dental Hygiene – web page with videos and a continuing education home-study course

911 Dispatchers: Helping Others Shouldn't Hurt You (PDF) – fact sheet

Drilling Overhead: Ways to Make a Tough Job Easier (PDF) – fact sheet

Drywall Installers: Prevent Back, Wrist, Neck and Shoulder Injuries (PDF) – fact sheet

Grocery Cashiers – Serving Customers Shouldn't Hurt You (PDF) – fact sheet

Lab Workers: Take the Pain Out of Pipetting (PDF) – fact sheet

Nursery Workers: Prevent Back, Hand, Neck and Wrist Problems! (PDF) – fact sheet

Pavement Breaker Operators: Prevent Back, Joint, and Muscle Injuries! (PDF) – fact sheet

Sewing Machine Operators: Feel Better! Work Better! (PDF, English)  – fact sheet | Chinese (PDF, 9.2 MB)* | Spanish

Warehouse Workers: Take the Hurt Out of Handling Materials (PDF) – fact sheet

Ergonomic guides

Guide to Getting Medical Care for Job-Related Pain That Won't Go Away (PDF) – booklet

Physician's Guide to the California Ergonomics Standard (PDF) – guide

OHB investigations

Rates of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in a State Workers' Compensation Information System, by Industry and Occupation — California, 2007–2014 - MMWR report (2018)

* We are currently in the process of converting this document to an ADA web accessible format. It will be available soon. Thank you for your patience.
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