From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics- Design and Manufacturing Mainframe Computers

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

Workers had to design and manufacturing computer main frames which were 5 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. They weighed about 1200 pounds.

Tasks involved both seated and standing workstations and include office work using computers and production assemblies.

Some tasks involved hand loading of up to 80 pound components into the cabinets and repetitive use of screw drivers to attach the fasteners.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

Increasing the three categories of CTDs (Lifting, wrists and shoulder) injuries rate.

Increasing lost work days caused by back and shoulder injuries.

Increasing of workers’ compensation costs.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Force)

Workers had to lift components up to 80 pounds.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

Task involved a lot of turning and moving.

Awkward postures were involved in seated workplaces using awful chairs.

Ergonomic Solution (Administrative Controls)

Training had been provided for proper lifting techniques, general safety and use of special tools.

Extensive office workstation ergonomics training was provided.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

  1. New workbenches were provide to accommodate workers’ shorter reaches.
  2. Roller-ball conveyor belts and lifting devices were added to raise the units onto the conveyor belt.
  3. Pneumatic drivers were replaced with lighter electric units which had much less vibration and weighed about one pound.
  4. The conveyor system was abandoned for small, individual scissors.
  5. Lift platforms that would raise the cabinets and 3 feet off the floor.
  6. Seated and standing workstations were provided so one employee could build the entire cabinet instead of working on an assembly line in order to reduce the static fatigue.
  7. The scissor lifts were modified to rise up to 4 feet off the floor.
  8. The top of the lift was converted into a lazy suzan type device in order to eliminate getting up and walking around to the other side of the cabinet to attach the parts.
  9. 150 back belts were distributed among employees.
    New adjustable ergonomic chairs were purchased.
  10. Custom chairs which could be adjusted down to 14″ were developed for very small workers.
  11. Work surface height was adjusted from 25″ to 33″ to accomodate tall employees.

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

All workers that perform the tasks now have reduced exposure to CTDs.

Ergonomic Solution (Cost)

Company spent $20,000 to purchase a 500 pound lifting manipulator, $3000 to buy 150 back belts and $350,000 for 1200 new ergonomic chairs.

Total cost was $373,0000.

Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)

  • Decreasing workers’ compensation costs from $ 400,000 in 1990 to $ 8,600 in 1994.
  • CTD related injuries were eliminated in production.
  • There are no lost days due to CTDs in the office workplace.
  • Reports of injury dropped down to 3 to 10 per month.


Workers’ compensation losses dropped more than 75 percent to $ 94,000, with virtually no cost for training and some minor workplace modifications.