Ergonomics And Engineering Controls

Each year 1.8 million workers experience injuries related to ergonomic hazards.

600,000 of them are injured severely enough to lose time from work.

Engineering controls are changes in equipment aimed at reducing hazards that can cause these ergonomics injuries.

Equipment changes cannot remedy ergonomic problems in all situations, but where they can they are the preferred method of control because they offer permanent solutions.

In industrial workplaces engineering controls involve reducing awkward or prolonged postures, heavy lifting, and repetition motions.

Sometimes simple modifications can reduce the physical stress of a job. Where new equipment is needed, manufacturers now offer ergonomic designs for industrial equipment.

Following are a few examples of the many ways engineering controls can reduce the risk of ergonomic injury.

Worktable height adjustments minimize excessive forward bending and arm lifting. The appropriate height depends on the task being done, the materials used, and the size of the workers:

For close visual inspection, hands should be slightly higher than elbow height.

For light assembly, hands should be slightly below elbow height. The table may need further adjustment depending on the height of the assembly parts or containers.

For work that requires heavy force, the table should be at elbow height.

Workers must be able to operate height adjustment controls without use of force or awkward postures. Adjustable work surfaces than can be raised and lowered easily allow equipment operators to work in comfortable (i.e. not stressful) postures. Powered adjustments are generally easier on the body than manual ones.

Floor mats. Non-slip anti-fatigue mats reduce risk of slips, trips, and falls, as well as relieving pressure on the back and legs when standing or walking on solid floors. Depending on the work environment, mats may need to be chemical or temperature resistant or easily removed for cleaning.



Lighting. Adequate lighting not only eases eyestrain and improves accuracy, it also facilitates comfortable postures. Positioning lights directly over a work area allows workers to get close to the work to see it without having to stretch their heads and necks. With lights on adjustable arms, workers can position the light for best viewing of equipment and parts while avoiding glare and shadows. Attaching magnifiers to lights is helpful in certain situations.

Foot pedals. For jobs that involve foot pedals, pressure sensitive pedals can relieve the stress caused to the legs from pressing hard on pedals.

Powered lifts and hoists. Where jobs require repeated and/or heavy lifting, powered hoists and scissor lifts can carry loads and reduce bending and lifting.

Sometimes engineering controls involved minor changes to existing equipment. Changing the direction a door opens or adjusting shelf heights can make a world of difference.

Employees are the experts on what will make their jobs easier and often come up with inexpensive solutions to increase productivity and reduce lost-time incidents.

For more information and your FREE “Insider Report On Ergonomics” please visit

John J. Kovacs, a.k.a. The Workbench Guy, is V.P. & G.M. of
He has been providing numerous industries with top quality industrial workbenches, height-adjustable ergonomic worktables, sit-stands and anti-fatigue work mats.

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