Skip to main
University-wide Navigation


Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) currently account for one-third of all occupational injuries and illnesses reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by employers every year.

These disorders constitute the largest job-related injury and illness problem in the United States today. Workers suffering from MSDs experience less strength for gripping and less range of motion. In extreme cases, a person may experience loss of muscle function and inability to do everyday tasks.

Here are some common symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Painful joints
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Shooting or stabbing pains in arms or legs
  • Swelling, inflammation, burning sensation
  • Pain in wrists, shoulders, forearms, knees
  • Fingers or toes turning white
  • Back or neck pain, stiffness

Request an Ergonomic Assessment Here

Ergonomic Risk Factors

According to NIOSH, the three primary risk factors that cause MSDs are high force, awkward posture, and long duration or high frequency. Increasing the combination or number of these risk factors increases the chance of employees developing discomfort, pain, and/or an MSD.

  • Posture – In neutral posture, the joints can absorb force more easily that in others. Awkward and extreme postures increase susceptibility to injury, as they may stress joint components and reduce or block blood flow.
  • Force – Gripping, pinching, pushing, pulling, and lifting objects place additional force on the body’s joints. Increasing these forces requires additional muscle exertion, and places greater loads on joints and connective tissues which can cause fatigue and may contribute to MSD when there is inadequate time for rest and recovery.
  • Frequency – Higher frequency of awkward postures and/or forces increases the potential for damage to a joint.

Ergonomic Evaluation Information

If you feel you are experiencing discomfort due to the setup of your workstation, please try to adjust your workstation using the referenced Workstation Design Guidelines.

If after attempting this self-help approach, you are still experiencing discomfort, please fill out and submit the Ergonomic Assessment Request Form.

You will be contacted via e-mail or phone by an EH&S Coordinator to schedule an evaluation appointment.


Additional Resources

Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD’s)

Healthy Work Habits

Frequent, short rest breaks throughout the day may be effective in reducing the incidence of Musculoskeletal Disease (MSD) discomfort during repetitive and static work. Follow these simple guidelines:

  • Use correct posture when working. Keep moving as much as possible throughout the day.
  • Take short 1-2-minute stretch breaks every 20-30 minutes. After each hour of work, take a break or change tasks for at least 5 minutes.
  • Avoid eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes periodically. Look away from the monitor and focus on something in the distance. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Rest your eyes by covering them with your palms for 10-15 seconds.
  • Always try to get away from your computer during lunch breaks.

Visit Ergo Break to view recommended stretches to use throughout the day.


UK Human Resources offers a variety of programs and resources to employees.

Visit Work-life & Well-being to find resources available to UK employees.