ASSOCIATES (vol. 1, no. 1, July 1994) -

Table of Contents

			 Barbara Taylor
			 Copy Cataloger
		       Cornell University
Total Quality Management has moved into the area of injury
prevention at the Central Technical Services division of the
Cornell University Library. It is an experiment in employee
empowerment in an area of keen interest to employees.  Employees
have been allowed to form a team and given a certain amount of
power to attempt to encourage and educate fellow workers in
injury prevention.
For Cornell library employees, repetitive motion injury (RMI) has
become an all too common occurrence.  The incidence of RMI in the
library system has risen from 1.97 per 100 employees in 1991, to
7.41 per 100 employees in 1993.  This increase in the number of
injuries  caught the attention of Christian Boissonnas, Director
of Central Technical Services (CTS).  He  asked for CTS employees
to volunteer to form a team to develop a strategy for increasing
awareness of RMI and the various preventative measures that can
be taken to avoid these injuries.
The Repetitive Motion Injuries Team was thus organized and
began meeting in December 1993.  The membership consists of five
representatives from the various CTS units (i.e., acquisitions,
gifts and exchange, documents, searching/fastcat, and cataloging)
and the Director of Human Resources for the Library who attends
team meetings in an advisory capacity.  The Director/Consultant
of the Organizational Development Services in the University
Human Resource Services was instrumental in introducing the team
approach to problem solving and in facilitating the team's smooth
functioning in its initial phase.
The team approach to dealing with identified problems is
relatively new.  Team members from various levels of staff
represent their peers in an effort to solve problems which are
common to, or have the potential to effect, all staff.  This
approach has broken down barriers to communication and dispelled
stereotypes, and has resulted in a productive and effective
joint effort which has produced several important accomplishments
in the first few months of meetings.
Most importantly, the team developed a mission statement which
reads as follows:
	a)  Develop a strategy for increasing CTS employee
awareness and implementation of healthy work habits which would
focus on reducing the number of computer-related injuries.
	b)  Establish a continuing education program in the area
of job related injuries.
After these initial steps were taken, the team began the task
of self-education.  Each person on the team gathered and studied
related materials, including the most current postings on two
computer listservs.  From this exercise grew a lending library
which is open to CTS employees.  It contains items of interest
concerning repetitive motion injuries and other work-related
health issues.  The team is adding to the collection constantly
and welcomes contributions from anyone in the library system.
The team's next project was to compile a training module to
advise new library employees of the potential risk of computer-
related injuries. It contains letters from Christian Boissonnas
and the RMI team, the philosophy of RMI prevention, and exercises
to perform at the terminal.  This packet will be made available
to all units including current CTS employees upon request.
In March, the team distributed a survey to CTS staff.  It
was designed by the team to examine current behaviors and
attitudes toward the working environment.  One outstanding result
of the survey showed that 49% of the staff who responded
experience or have experienced some kind of pain while working at
a computer for one hour or more.
In the months that the team has been working together, the
individual team members' talents have been developed.  For
example, the team has one member who does writing while another,
with a knowledge of various computer programs, illustrates
through graphs and charts the team's findings.  A third team
member is excellent at consulting with fellow employees about
their particular work-related injury problems.
As the team continues to work together, even more ideas will be
generated by the gathering of additional information and from
brainstorming creative ways of organizing work and adapting
work habits that would prevent injury.  The team has moved to the
forefront of employee empowerment by identifying and solving
problems in the workplace.