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Ergonomics Study of Custodial, Housekeeping, and Environmental Service Positions at the University of California

At the University of California, custodians, housekeepers and environmental service workers play a critical role in keeping building interiors well-maintained. To perform these physical tasks, these workers are exposed to ergonomic risk factors such as repetitive motions and awkward postures. In fiscal year 2010, custodial injuries accounted for 761 workers’ compensation claims, with an actuarial estimated ultimate direct cost of $7.1 million. Loss data was valued as of June 30, 2010.
UCOP Risk Services tasked the UC System-wide Ergonomics Work Group with conducting an ergonomic study of this group to identify problem areas and develop strategies to address those problems. A project team comprised of ergonomists from various UC locations was formed.
Various approaches were used to meet the project objectives. Workers’ Compensation data and task analysis were used to identify high risk tasks. The high risk tasks include: trash, recycle and linen handling, mopping, bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, lifting and moving furniture. A literature review was conducted and the ergonomists drew upon front line experiences at their individual locations.
From the compiled data, a set of reference documents was developed including Best Practices Bulletins, Recommended Product Sheets and Ergonomic Design Guidelines for New Construction and Existing Buildings. The Best Practices Bulletins provide recommendations to reduce ergonomic risk factors. Each Best Practice Bulletin also includes information on equipment selection, training concepts, and work and staffing guidelines. The Recommended Product Sheets offer equipment recommendations that have proven successful at various UC locations. The Ergonomic Design Guidelines for New Construction and Existing Buildings offer important criteria to implement at the beginning of construction projects.
In addition to these reference documents, a few specific strategies were initiated by this project:

  • A newly designed tool was developed through the collaboration of Ira Janowitz (LBNL) and Howard Silverberg (Flexible Scientific) to hold dumpster lids open. These will be piloted at each location to determine their effectiveness.
  • UCOP is developing a streamlined purchasing program to obtain effective pricing for the recommended tools and equipment.
  • UCOP is creating a website to post the documents for easy access and implementation. Content will be updated bi-annually.

Lastly, the project team created a project application and brief evaluation tool to develop and implement location-specific interventions to address one of the high at-risk

Full Report Download (.pdf)

Ergonomics Study of Dining Services Positions at the University of California

At the University of California, Dining Services plays a critical role in providing food for thousands of students, patients, guests, staff, and faculty. To perform this critical job function, workers are exposed to ergonomic risks such as repetitive motion, strain, and awkward postures. During fiscal years 2008-2011, ergonomic injuries in dining services accounted for 705 workers’ compensation claims, with an actuarial estimated ultimate direct cost of $8,651,496. Loss data was valued as of November 30, 2011.
At the request of UCOP Risk Services, the UC Ergonomics Work Group conducted a study of Dining Services to identify the top five areas of ergonomic risk and develop strategies to address these issues. A project team comprised of ergonomists from various UC locations was formed.

Full Report Download (.pdf)

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Ergonomics Study of Animal Care Positions at The University of California 

At the University of California, animal care employees play a critical role in maintaining the health and well-being of animal subjects and supporting ongoing university research. To perform these job functions, workers are exposed to ergonomic risks such as repetitive motion, strain, and awkward postures. During fiscal years 2009-2013, ergonomic injuries involving animal care staff accounted for 328 workers’ compensation claims, with an actuarial estimated ultimate direct cost of $1,045,955.15 (loss data was valued as of December 31, 2012).

At the request of University of California, Office of the President (UCOP) Risk Services, the UC Ergonomics Work Group conducted a study of the animal care staff to identify the top five areas of ergonomic risk and develop strategies to address these issues. A project team comprised of five ergonomists from various UC locations was formed.

Full Report Download (.pdf)

Ergonomics Study of Ground Positions At the University of California


At the University of California, grounds employees play a critical role in maintaining the landscape and hardscape throughout each location. To perform these job functions, workers are exposed to risk factors such as repetitive motion, strain and awkward postures. During fiscal years 2009-2014, musculoskeletal injuries involving grounds staff accounted for 246 workers’ compensation claims, with an actuarial estimated ultimate direct cost of $1,968,328 (loss data was valued as of June 30, 2014).
At the request of University of California, Office of the President (UCOP) Risk Services, the UC Ergonomics Work Group conducted a study of the grounds staff to identify the top five areas of musculoskeletal risk and develop strategies to address these issues. A project team comprised of five ergonomists from various UC locations was formed.

Full Report Download (.pdf).

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