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Ergonomics

Ryerson University’s comprehensive ergonomics program offers students, faculty and staff a number of resources in order to best set up your workspace so as to prevent injury. These resources are designed to ensure that your workstation enables the most efficient, safe and productive environment.

Why ergonomics matter

While our bodies are designed for movement, in today’s society, people are leading more and more sedentary lifestyles. This has a serious negative impact on our health. Numerous studies on the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle have even led physicians to refer to sitting as the new smoking. Prolonged sitting can lead to serious injuries, called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Musculoskeletal disorders

MSDs are injuries or disorders of the nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints and cartilage in the neck, back, lower and upper limbs. When these injuries result from work, they are referred to as “work-related” MSDs. Currently, they represent the number one type of lost-time work injury reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Ontario.

Signs and symptoms of an MSD

The signs and symptoms associated with MSDs may come on gradually, seemingly without a cause, or can appear to occur with a simple daily activity. Symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • back pain
  • tension in your wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and head
  • fatigue
  • stiffness
  • numbness/tingling in your hands or feet

If you are currently experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of an MSD, seek the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner such as a chiropractor or physiotherapist.

Self-study resources 

Fact sheets

A woman sitting at an ergonomic workstation.

PDF fileHow to set up an ergonomic workstation

This fact sheet demonstrates how to ergonomically set up your workstation. Please check your workstation setup weekly to make sure you’re maintaining good ergonomic habits.

A man demonstrating a deltoid stretch.

PDF fileStretches you can do at your desk

This fact sheet demonstrates some stretches you can do at your workstation. Ideally, you want to take a stretch break at least once every hour.

Training

The Office Ergonomics course: Aches, Pains and Office Strains, is about 60 minutes long and teaches how to recognize MSDs, how to adjust your workstation ergonomically and stretches you can do at your workstation.

Step 1: Sign up for a Learner Profile

To sign up for the Office Ergonomics training, follow these enrollment instructions.

Step 2: Complete the training in D2L

There are a total of four modules which take approximately 45 minutes to complete in full. Upon completion of the modules, you will be asked to complete a form.

Ergonomic task chairs

For most people, a review and readjustment of your current chair settings will address any discomfort caused by sitting. In circumstances when a chair is no longer functioning correctly and cannot be repaired, speak to your manager.

In the event that you require a new chair, employees and their manager are invited to choose from a catalogue of 11 different types of office chairs. Each of these chairs comes in various colours and sizes, and includes a video that shows how to adjust your chair. Additional customized support is also available from the vendor if required.

To test the chairs, please contact Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at 416-979-5000, ext. 553770 or ehs@ryerson.ca.

PDF fileTask Chairs Information Sheets Booklet

For more information

For more information or to provide feedback on the Office Ergonomics Program, please contact EHS at 416-979-5000, ext. 553770 or ehs@ryerson.ca.

If an employee is under the care of a medical practitioner and workplace accommodations are required, please contact Workplace Wellbeing Services.