Programs and Services

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of designing your workspace or job to fit you rather than physically forcing your body to fit the job. Adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment to fit you can help to reduce physical stress on your body and eliminate many potentially disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)?

MSDs are injuries and disorders of soft tissue—muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and nervous system. They most frequently involve the wrists, elbows, arms, back, neck, shoulders, and legs. MSDs have a range of causes depending on your age, type of work performed, duration of work performed, activity level, and lifestyle. These injuries generally develop over weeks, months, and years.

What causes work-related MSDs?

Conditions that are likely to cause MSDs include:

  • Exerting excessive force.
  • Excessive repetition of movements that can irritate tendons and increase pressure on nerves.
  • Awkward postures or unsupported positions that stretch physical limits, which can compress nerves and irritate tendons.
  • Static postures or positions that a worker must hold for long periods of time can restrict blood flow and damage muscles.
  • Motion, such as increases speed or acceleration when bending and twisting, can increase the amount of force exerted on the body.
  • Compression, from grasping sharp edges.

How to Request an Ergonomic Assessment

SAIC offers ergonomic assessments to assist in the prevention of work-related MSDs. Below is the procedure for requesting an ergonomic assessment:

  • Inform your supervisors or manager that you would like an ergonomic assessment.
  • Complete a 360 Work Request and select Ergonomic Assessment. Indicate if your reason for the request is related to:
    • A concern about your workstation setup
    • If your experiencing physical discomfort
    • New or revised process, procedure, or task
    • New hire or new workstation
    • Safety concern
  • Environmental Health and Safety will respond to your request in one to five days.
  • We will provide a written summary outlining the findings of the ergonomic assessment and any equipment recommendations will be included.

Purchase of Equipment

If the ergonomic assessment findings indicate recommendations to purchase new equipment to alleviate or prevent a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, the equipment will be provided at no cost to the department. However, if there are no recommendations but the employee would like new office equipment, the respective department must approve and purchase the equipment.

Injury and Illness Reporting

In the event that you believe you are experiencing pain and discomfort related to your workstation set-up or a specific work related task, report the injury to your supervisor and complete an injury and illness report.

Introduction to Indoor Air Quality

Good indoor air quality depends on adequate ventilation, control of airborne contaminants, and maintenance of acceptable temperatures and relative humidity. Indoor air quality concerns can range from nuisance odors and uncomfortable temperatures to more complex situations dealing with microbiological contaminants or outdoor air pollutants and dust.

How to Address Air Quality Concerns

  1. If the air quality concern is temperature or mechanical in nature place a 360 Work Request or contact the IRFM (Instructional Resources and Facilities Management) help line at 9-4291
  2. If the air quality concern is health related (i.e., odors are causing a physiological response), contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) for an IAQ investigation or call Campus Security at 312.899.1230, or press the red emergency button on any house phone.
    • EHS will work with IRFM staff to determine the source of the IAQ issue.
    • EHS will log the issue in 360 Incident System.
    • EHS will determine if any air quality sampling is needed and make arrangements for the collection of samples and laboratory analysis.
    • A written summary outlining the findings of the initial investigation and any relevant recommendations will be completed by EHS and provided to the appropriate parties.
  3. If indoor air quality related issues results in temporarily relocating staff or time off, EHS or a designate will coordinate the appropriate accommodation with IRFM and Human Resources.

Hazard Communication Program—Introduction

The purpose of SAICs Hazard Communication Program is to ensure that all SAIC faculty, staff, and student workers are informed about the identity and hazards of chemicals in their work areas and know how to handle them safely. This program applies to all SAIC employees with the exception of those working in classroom and shop areas. Chemical use in fabrication studios, laboratories, and shops is covered by department-specific Chemical Hygiene Programs.


  • SAIC is responsible for protecting faculty, students, and staff from all hazardous chemicals known to be present in the workplace.
  • Faculty, staff, and students have a responsibility to follow the procedures outlined in this document, including:
    • Using proper personal protective equipment
    • Following safe work practices
    • Following appropriate waste disposal practices
    • Reducing exposure to hazardous substances through the use of less hazardous substances, isolating processes, using adequate ventilation, and operating with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment
  • EHS is responsible for ensuring that all aspects of this program are carried out as intended, including:
    • Development and supervision of a hazardous chemical inventory program
    • Training of appropriate personnel
    • Supervision of SAIC's container labeling system
    • Coordination of any necessary exposure monitoring

Program Requirements

  • Hazard Classification Procedures
    • SAIC relies on chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate their produced and/or important chemicals and classify them in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) hazard communication standard.
    • Each Safety Data Sheet will be forwarded to the Associate Director of EHS.
      • The Associate Director of EHS will review hazard information on the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and ensure that information concerning the hazards is relayed to the appropriate department staff member.
    • A copy of the SDS must be maintained in the department's safety data sheet binder or via MSDS online.
  • Purchasing New Chemicals: New chemicals must be accompanied by:
    • Safety data sheets
    • Affixed appropriate identification and warning labels
  • Chemical Inventory
    • Each department is responsible for compiling, maintaining, and updating an inventory of chemicals used or produced within their department. See attached blank inventory sheet.
    • All chemical substances, including compressed gases used for hot work and forklifts, must be documented.
    • Annually, each department must forward the completed inventory to EHS.
  • Labels
    • Each department (through a designated individual) is responsible for ensuring that all containers are labeled according to OSHA Hazard Communication requirements.
    • SAIC uses manufacturers' already present labels as the primary means of labeling. Labeling must be in accordance with OSHA Hazard Communication requirements.
    • If the manufacturer or supplier does not provide the label, the receiving department must notify the supplier that the label is missing. The material cannot be used until the label is supplied and affixed to the container.
    • If chemicals are transferred from the original shipping container to another container, those containers must be labeled with a secondary label that contains the name of the chemical (or other identifier) and words, pictures, and symbols that provide general information regarding the hazards of the chemical.
  • Containers
    • When re-using containers for other materials, all previously affixed labels must be removed.
    • If a container is empty, it may be used for other materials provided it is properly cleaned and air-dried before re-use.
    • Affix a new label on the container as outlined in the previous section.
    • Unlabeled portable containers, such as pails and buckets used for transferring the contents of labeled containers, should be used by one employee and emptied at the end of each shift. If these containers are used by more than one person and/or their contents are not emptied at the end of each shift, the department supervisor or designate is responsible for ensuring the container is labeled appropriately.
  • Safety Data Sheets
    • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) must be supplied by the manufacturer, supplier, and/or distributor of each chemical and must address all hazards known about it. If an SDS is not available, each department should designate an individual to notify the manufacturer/supplier that an SDS is needed.
    • SAIC faculty and staff shall forward all SDSs to EHS for review and uploading on to the MSDS online database. Hard copies will be maintained within each department.
    • Each department will designate an individual to be responsible for ensuring SDSs are available and submitted to the Associate Director of EHS for all incoming products.
    • Safety Data Sheets are available to faculty, students and staff. SDSs are available via:
      • The MSDS online database 
      • Hard copies of safety data sheets are available within each department. 
  • Contractors
    • Departments must inform outside contractors of potential hazards that may be encountered while working at SAIC. This includes giving contractors a copy of this written hazard communication program, a chemical inventory, and Safety Data Sheets. 
    • Contractors will inform and provide departments with a chemical inventory and SDSs for hazardous chemicals used at SAIC.
    • Contractors must provide information regarding where hazardous chemicals will be stored.
  • Training
    • All employees receive general training and information on OSHA's hazard communication standard and "Right to Know" during New Employee Orientation. This includes:
      • An explanation of the labeling system
      • Safety Data Sheets
      • How employees can obtain and use appropriate information about potential hazards.
    • Specific information and training about hazardous chemicals used in your work area are provided by individual departments. Departments are responsible for assuring their staff attend training and keep attendance records for training. Each department is responsible for informing workers of:
      • The location of SAIC's Hazard Communication Program, the chemical inventory, and Safety Data Sheets
      • All possible hazards of chemicals in an employee's work area.
      • The measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, like adjusting their work practices, familiarizing themselves with emergency procedures, and utilizing personal protective equipment.
      • The appropriate emergency treatment for exposure
      • Procedures for the cleanup of leaks and spills
      • The locations of hazardous materials in your work area
    • Re-training is required as directed by EHS, the department supervisor, or designate. Retraining is required when a new hazard is introduced into the work area, not a new chemical. For example, if a new solvent is bought into the work area, and it has similar hazards to existing chemicals for which training has already been conducted, then no new training is required. 

Program Maintenance

This program shall be reviewed and updated a minimum of once each year by the Associate Director of EHS.