The goal of ergonomics is to provide an efficient and safe work environment for all employees. The University’s ADA Coordinators encourages employees to follow sound ergonomic practices and to become educated in ergonomic principles in order to ensure a healthy and productive work environment. To that end, this page offers guidance for individuals with and without disabilities who are interested in creating or improving the ergonomics of their worksite.
Ergonomic Program for Employees without Disabilities
Ergopoint is the University ergonomic program that is available to employees through its HealthPoint Occupational Health Program (OHP). Ergopoint is available to any employee experiencing aches and pains after working all day. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) typically develop over a long period of time. The earlier that employees report symptoms and have them attended to, the better the chance of preventing a serious injury. When an employee reports occasional discomfort due to work activities, it does not necessarily mean that they will eventually develop a WMSD, but it is a sign that problems exist that will need to be addressed. Often, making simple changes to their job, work practices or workstation will reduce the symptoms to a level where injury is no longer a concern; this process will be the focus of the rest of this section.
- Initiation: Employee contacts the HealthPoint Occupational Health Program (OHP) at 512-475-7207 or visits the OHP website, they will be asked to fill out a short online survey. The purpose of the survey is to assess whether the employee is experiencing discomfort and would benefit from a consultation with the OHP nurse.
- Training: Once the employee has completed the online survey, OHP will email the employee the link to start the Ergopoint training and self-assessment. This training teaches the basics of setting up an ergonomic workstation (desk, computer, chair, or a standing workstation).
- Evaluation: Upon completion of the Ergopoint training, OHP will receive an email notification and evaluate whether the employee is in need of a follow-up.
- Review: Employees are encouraged to share their findings and results of the Ergopoint training with their supervisor to discuss next steps as it relates to the purchase of items that will create or increase the ergonomics of their work area.
Please visit the dedicated OHP Ergopoint web page to learn more or call 512-475-7207 start the training process by completing a quick survey.
Ergonomic Program for Employees with Disabilities
If you are an employee with a disability who may require specific equipment as a reasonable accommodation, you have the option to complete the Ergopoint program that is available to employees through the University’s HealthPoint Occupational Health Program (OHP), or you can initiate the accommodation process. While voluntary, employees with disabilities are encouraged to complete the Ergopoint program as the results can generate meaningful discussion between the employee and their supervisor as to what furniture or equipment will benefit the employee while at work. In many, but not all cases, the employee/supervisor dialogue helps reveal ergonomic equipment (sit/stand desks, keyboard trays, vertical mice, etc.) the unit or department already has on hand that is currently going unused. Another source to check for ergonomic equipment is Surplus Property at the J. Pickle Research Campus.
Please visit the dedicated OHP Ergopoint web page or call 512-475-7207 to learn more or start the training process by completing a quick survey.
Accommodation Process for Ergonomic Assessments
The accommodation process for ergonomic requests is geared toward individuals with a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and/or have a record of such an impairment. The impairment may be permanent, chronic, or progressive. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is considered a disability under the ADA if the condition substantially limits a major life activity when active.
Examples of conditions that warrant consideration for accommodation include, but are not limited to carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic back pain, arthritis, including osteoarthritis, nerve damage, fibromyalgia, etc. The accommodation process can also assess configurations and modifications to a worksite for individuals who are wheelchair users.
In most cases, it is not necessary for the ADA Coordinators to meet with an employee or their supervisor in person to discuss an ergonomic request, unless the request is complex in nature and/or additional accommodations are being requested. For ergonomic requests, the interactive process is generally facilitated over the phone or via email. However, an employee or their supervisor can request a meeting with the ADA Coordinators at any time to discuss any questions or concerns. The accommodation process for ergonomic assessments is detailed below.
- Initiation: Employees seeking workplace accommodation(s) are responsible for initiating contact with and requesting information regarding accommodations. Employees interested in workplace accommodations can call or email OIE to request the paperwork to start the accommodation process. Employees interested in pursuing an ergonomic assessment via the accommodation process need to complete and return the following forms to OIE:
- Employee Accommodation Request Form
- Employee Accommodation Medical Certification Form (PDF)
- Authorization to Release Medical Information (PDF)
If the information provided is not complete and/or does not provide sufficient information to justify the requested accommodations, the ADA Coordinators will request additional information and/or reach out to the employee’s licensed health care provider to ask clarifying questions.
- Processing the Request: The ADA Coordinators will review the employee’s paperwork to determine the appropriateness of the accommodation process. If it is determined the employee has a qualifying condition, the ADA Coordinators will (a) inform the employee (b) reach out to the University’s Ergonomic Technician and provide them with the employee’s contact information for the purpose of scheduling a worksite visit (c) send the employee’s supervisor notification informing them their employee will be assessed by the University’s Ergonomic Technician.
- Determination: The University’s Ergonomic Technician will visit the employee’s worksite and assess their current work area. The technician will draft a report of their findings that details the recommended items the employee’s department needs to provide. Recommendations can include furniture (office chairs, desks, etc.) and equipment (keyboard trays, vertical mouse, etc.).
- Funding: Individual departments have responsibility for covering the cost of furniture and equipment needed as part of an employee accommodation provision. Employees and their supervisors are encouraged to collaborate and assess whether the department already owns some of the recommended items listed in the report. Another source to check for ergonomic equipment is Surplus Property at the J. Pickle Research Campus. If the department does not already own the recommended items and/or the items are not available through Surplus Property, the department should move forward with purchasing the recommended items listed in the report.