Ergonomics | Employee Wellness
Your overall wellness is a priority to Pacific University. We want every member of our community to feel fulfilled, productive, and comfortable in the workplace. Please review the information below to help guide and inspire your workspace processes.
Tips to Improve Workplace Wellness
- Stress Reduction | Deep breathing, laughter, and soothing music can help ease stress and anxiety throughout the day. Add morning meditation or prayer to your daily routine. An exercise session before work or at lunch can often boost mood. Avoid conflict and gossip as often as possible. Keep your workspace organized.
- Snacks | Keep yourself fueled throughout the day with fresh fruits and vegetables or other snacks that provide consistent energy. Avoid refined sugar, high salt, and highly-processed treats.
- Hydration | Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Coffee can be dehydrating, so be aware of how much coffee you intake and be mindful of compensating for the extra water loss.
- Movement | If you work at a desk, be sure to stand up regularly. Take the long route to the copy machine or the restroom. Stand up every 30 minutes and stretch. Move around. When possible, have walking meetings. When the weather allows, get outside. When it’s rainy or cold, walk around your office or building.
- Posture | Be conscious of how you sit at your desk and hold your body – while sitting, standing, and moving. Check out these helpful guidelines for proper prosture.
- Workstation Set-Up | How you arrange your work area has an impact on how you move throughout the day and your sense of overall well-being. Put positive work area change into action with Saif’s helpful brochure on Workstation Comfort.
Ergonomics is part of a healthy workspace, and it can be loosely defined as: the study of people's efficiency in their working environment. We understand that feeling healthy has an enormous impact on your work, and we want you to have the tools to do your job with ease.
The following ergonomic information and guidance will assist you in creating the most effective work environment for you and your team.
How you use your body affects how you feel at work. Aspects that play a key role in your ongoing workplace comfort:
- Relaxed, healthy posture
- Regular breaks
- Convenient workstation set-up
To improve your office workstation comfort, we recommend the following resources:
- Office Ergonomics: Simple solutions for comfort and safety video
- Evaluating your computer workspace: How to make it work for you
- Office Ergonomics: Self-assessment worksheet
If you're not in an office environment, we recommend the following resource:
Though impactful, it can take time to feel comfortable with positive changes to your posture, habits, and workspace. When you attempt to create a healthier space for yourself, it is advised that you give yourself several weeks to adjust to the changes as you observe what may and may not work for you.
If you have taken steps to improve your work area and would like additional guidance with your workspace set-up, an advisory evaluation can be provided to you by the Human Resources Department. Human Resources offers this service to allow for a more personalized, one-on-one general assessment and possible adjustment of your workstation. Please contact the Wellness Coordinator to schedule an assessment.
Note: When an employee desires ergonomic equipment, the equipment must be purchased from the employee’s Department’s budget.
Recommended Accommodation Requests
According to the US Equal Opportunity Commission:
Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process. These modifications enable an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity not only to get a job, but successfully perform their job tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities. The ADA requires reasonable accommodations as they relate to three aspects of employment: 1) ensuring equal opportunity in the application process; 2) enabling a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job; and 3) making it possible for an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
Please see the Department of Labor website for additional information.
All Accommodation Equipment is the financial responsibility of the requesting employee’s Department. If there is a need to augment existing furniture or office space, the Department is responsible for the purchase of the equipment and for seeking approval from Facilities.
If you desire an accommodation, the first step is to speak with your supervisor. If that action is not comfortable for you, please contact the Wellness Coordinator in Human Resources and next steps will be recommended.
The following guidelines apply to Ergonomic Accommodation Requests.
- If a department is willing to directly collaborate with an employee regarding budget and purchase, a doctor’s note is not required to purchase ergonomic equipment.
- If an Ergonomic Assessment prior to purchase is desired, that request can be made to the Wellness Coordinator, Human Resources.
- If an accommodation request is made and the department and employee agree to move forward with an accommodation purchase without an Ergonomic Assessment, for accommodation tracking purposes, the employee and the employee's supervisor must submit documentation of the jointly agreed upon collaboration to the Wellness Coordinator within 7 business days of the supervisor receiving the note.
- If a department is hesitant to dedicate budget or would like additional guidance, the employee may submit a doctor’s note to the Wellness Coordinator with the equipment request. From there, the approval process will flow from Human Resources to Purchasing, and an Ergonomic Assessment will be coordinated with the employee. After the assessment, purchasing suggestions will be made, and next steps for purchase can be made by the employee and the Department.
Human Resources will provide a general alert to supervisors of employees who have submitted an Accommodation Request.
- If an employee chooses to submit medical documentation along with an Accommodation Request, having adequate information from the medical professional allows for equipment purchase guidance. Please review the JAN Practical Guide For Medical Professionals to help determine what is ideal for an Accommodation Request document.
- All purchases must adhere to university furniture standards and follow standard university purchasing procedures. For questions about university furniture standards and purchasing procedures, please contact Tracy Losli, Purchasing Manager, in the Purchasing Department.
- Certain Ergonomic Accommodation items do not require prior approval from the Purchasing Department. These items include desk risers, foot stools, wireless/ergonomic keyboards, wireless/ergonomic mouse, document holders, mouse pads with wrist support pads, keyboard wrist support pads, and lumbar supports. Human Resources provides a general list of helpful ergonomic items that may be purchased by the Department without prior approval from Purchasing. If there is a question about purchasing guidelines, it is always best to seek guidance from the Purchasing Department.
- All furniture modification purchases must be approved by Purchasing and approved/requested through Facilities. The university contracts through J.Thayer and Office Depot. Both companies can assist in selecting appropriate furniture items. Contact the Purchasing Department for vendor contact information.
- In circumstances where the accommodation request requires specialized consideration, an outside vendor will be contacted for assistance. Our ongoing furniture vendors will be an option along with a consultant from Harris WorkSystems.
Reasonable Accommodations and Exercise Equipment in the Workplace
We understand that physical activity is imperative to a healthy lifestyle. We encourage all members of the Pacific community to engage in physical activity on a regular basis and take breaks that include stretching and movement. In addition, members of the Pacific community may utilize the Stoller Fitness Center and participate in a number of recreational activities at no cost.
Though it is important to take time to move throughout the day, accommodation requests that involve exercise while in the act of working will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We do not want to hinder your ability to move throughout the day, but safety in the workplace is also a primary priority.
If you have a medical recommendation for exercise equipment in the workplace, it will be assessed by Human Resources for safety. If it is not deemed to be a safe item, alternative options will be provided and also requested from the medical provider.
As each circumstance is different, we cannot address every specific piece of possible equipment here. Items must provide a reasonable amount of stability when balance, space, and injury prevention is considered. If it is assessed that the item may create injury to the user, the university will not purchase the item.
If a member of the community would like to purchase a piece of equipment that has not been approved as a reasonable and safe accommodation, the employee may have the option to purchase the item independently and take full responsibility for personal or property damage. Prior to purchase, documentation of responsibility will be required.
Additional Ergonomic Resources
Workstation Comfort: Help To Help Yourself
Workstation Ergonomics Leverage Zones
Office Ergonomics: Neutral Posture
Job Accommodation Network
Oregon OSHA Publications Search
Work Exercises and Stretches, National Institutes of Health
Work From Home: Ergonomics, Faculty and Staff Covid-19 Wellness Resource Guide
Ergonomics and Work Well-Being Presented by Pacific University Wellness Coordinator, Jamie Loken
We dedicate a considerable portion of our lives to work, and how you feel while you work can impact your entire life. Watch this session to learn how to adjust your office workspace for optimal comfort and overall health. Guidance will also be provided for those who work from home and have variable resources in their work areas. In addition to equipment setup and ideal body positioning, this workshop will address strategies to care for short-and long-term well-being – whether you’re in or out of your traditional office environment.
Reminder | Any augmentation of existing furniture must be approved by the Facilities, and on a case-by-case basis, additional accommodation requests may also require Facilities approval.
*These guidelines will take effect on August 15, 2019. Ongoing updates will occur as needed.