ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

[Editor: Barbara has written a follow-up to her original article titled "Repetitive Motion Injuries Team and Cornell University" <> in Associates (1994, July, v. 1, no. 1).]

*Repetitive Motion Injuries Prevention Team, Ten Years Later*


Barbara Taylor
Classification Specialist
Cornell University

Whoever thought that a person could get hurt by keyboarding? Ten years ago, Cornell’s Central Technical Services Department became alarmed at the number of repetitive motion injuries that its employees were receiving. The Director at the time thought of a revolutionary approach to see if the trend could be reversed. This was the beginning of the Repetitive Motion Injuries Prevention team, made up of volunteer employees from the department.

The mission of the team was to increase awareness of computer related injury among their fellow employees and to establish a continuing education program in this area. A byproduct of this mission was to increase awareness of the individual employee’s responsibility in the area of injury prevention. This required a corporate culture shift. In ten years, this has been accomplished. The furniture in the Central Technical Services office has been changed twice, especially with the idea of injury prevention. The team was opened up to include members from other libraries on campus. The team presented at a session of the New York State Library Association.

In the past ten years, the team has been busy. The team first educated itself on how to prevent injury. It then compiled a training module for new employees. It also developed a brochure with exercises and the names of the team who could offer help. One of the main duties of the team was to give workstation assessments to help determine possible reasons for discomfort and also some simple remedies. In addition to this, the team offered several ergonomics fairs featuring groups on campus who were interested in promoting wellness and injury prevention and offering workshops from outside consultants, for example, an optometrist who gave a workshop on eye exercises. Another offering of the team was promoting stress reduction, which seemed to be a contributor to injury. The team offered walks in different parts of campus with healthy snacks and stress relieving toys. These efforts were much appreciated by the staff. The team also developed a library of books and equipment related to preventing repetitive motion injury.

At the same time, Cornell University administration was beginning to take this problem seriously as well. A physical therapist was hired to do workstation assessments and to educate the employees on avoiding work related injuries. He has recently left his position after doing 2400 workstation assessments in 6 ½ years.

When he left, he sent a note with the following web sites of information that can guide the seeker of sources on increased comfort at the computer:

The team has not been active in the last year, but the need is less as the supervisors are all aware of looking for possible discomfort, the office has good furniture and the employees are aware of their responsibilities for taking care of themselves.

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