AIHA Uses Ergonomics to Kick Off Safety Week

Association picks hot topic to promote its second annual Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Week.

A display of an ergonomically correct office workstation and a press conference opened the second annual Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) Week on Monday in Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the nationwide event includes Web chats, health seminars and hands-on school presentations.

"OEHS Week was developed to remind the general public about workplace and community safety and how it affects everyday living," said Steven P. Levine, Ph.D., CIH2, the association''s president and a contributing editor of Occupational Hazards.

There is far more to OEHS Week than repetitive motion disorders, but as OSHA races to complete its final and controversial ergonomics rule, event organizers chose to highlight the importance of an ergonomically correct desk, chair, keyboard and monitor alignment.

At the press conference, a panel of experts led by Henry Bennett, CIH, director of health, safety and environmental services at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, used an office worker sitting in front of a computer to explain the intricacies of office ergonomics.

"You want everything to be adjustable that''s my main point," Bennett said. The demonstration made use of a five-legged office chair that can be raised, lowered and tilted and has movable armrests. The keyboard was placed on a sliding tray that was also adjustable.

The equipment was provided by Ergonetics, a Washington-based ergonomic resource company whose president, Tony Biafore, aims to go beyond simply supplying offices with furniture. "There''s no such thing as an ergonomic product," Biafore said. "There''s just an ergonomic way to use it." Ergonetics uses certified ergonomists to match each person and office with the proper equipment.

AIHA believes that, by raising awareness about worker health and safety, American employees can help improve their workplace environment. The association can provide information on ergonomics, indoor air pollution and other areas of concern.

AIHA has developed a variety of publications covering workplace and community health and safety issues. Copies of these publications can be obtained by e-mailing the association at [email protected] or by visiting its Web site at www.aiha.org.

by James L. Nash

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