By Emily Slonim. In April of 2022, UC campuses needed an improved technology solution for office ergonomic assessments and training. The change would impact every location in the UC system. To implement change at this scale three teams came together the following month to establish a partnership and begin working on this challenge together. The three teams included: (1) UC Ergonomics Systemwide Workgroup; (2) Office of the President Risk Services (OPRS); and (3) the Risk and Safety Solutions (RSS) team.
Defining the problem:
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a significant number (~365,000) of preventable, work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) injuries. Beyond the financial implications, these injuries average 14 days away from work for each incident, affecting the entire workforce. These types of injuries could impact a significant number of the University of California’s employees, and a systemwide solution would be critical to addressing this often avoidable problem.
New evaluations for risk assessment
Working together, the three teams (RSS, the Office of the President Risk Services (OPRS), and the UC Ergonomics Systemwide Workgroup) started by creating a comprehensive list of essential features that would be developed in the new assessment solution. This list included professional ergonomic evaluations, self-assessments, risk scores, configurable outcomes, variable workflows, regulatory training validations, and reporting. The dedication of all teams, paired with extensive testing of code quality, security, accessibility, and vulnerability, led to a unified, ergonomic assessment solution that catered to diverse requirements.
RSS knew, from experience, that extensive User Acceptance Testing (UAT) at each campus would be critical for adoption and successful implementation. UAT allowed the User Experience (UX) team to observe usage patterns and iterate on the design, resulting in an intuitive and efficient solution.
Impact of the UC computer ergonomics project
The outcomes of the UC Ergonomics project have been significant for the University of California.
- By moving to a UC-wide in-house solution, data is centralized and integrated with other safety solutions.
- Computer ergonomics fully encompasses self-assessments, training, and reporting—all these features give way to a more equitable experience for end-users.
- Reduced ergonomic-based Workers’ Compensation claims, thanks to the proactive identification of potential injuries through robust personal and professional assessments (initiated through request or if there is a reported injury) and follow-up activities. Furthermore, the implementation of a central dashboard with actionable Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) eases administrative burdens and enables trend analysis. The project has also resulted in substantial savings of over $60,000 annually by avoiding the cost of a third-party solution.
- By providing a seamless and efficient training experience, corrections can be made without delay. This is the result of one of the most robust features of Computer Ergonomics is the embedded training. Training videos are integrated into the assessment, so as the individual goes through the questions, they are provided with tips and training.
Conclusions and what lies ahead for UC faculty and staff: fewer injuries
The UC Ergonomics project reflects both strong collaboration and innovation within the University of California. The partnership between the UC Ergonomics Systemwide Workgroup, OPRS, and RSS has given rise to a groundbreaking computer ergonomics solution that is set to benefit over 227,000 staff and faculty members across all UC campuses.
*Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) injuries – injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) are conditions in which:
- The work environment and performance of work contribute significantly to the condition; and/or
- The condition is made worse or persists longer due to work conditions