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When one of her access services associates filed a workers’ compensation claim that was due to carpal tunnel syndrome, Liz Kehrer, CHAM, patient access manager at Centegra Health System in McHenry, IL, collaborated with the system’s health nurse to make some workplace accommodations for that individual. Among other things, that associate was given a chair with arm rests, and a cushion for the keyboard tray to help support her wrists, Kehrer says. Discussions with the nurse alerted her to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) ergonomic standard, which became effective in January, she notes.
OSHA is scheduled to begin enforcing the standard, which requires hospitals and health care providers to take specific actions to address job-related musculoskeletal disorders and implement a broad-based ergonomics program, in October 2001. With that in mind, Kehrer says, she took some additional steps toward making the workplace ergonomically correct for all the access staff. Using a template for the design of a video display terminal station that the nurse provided as a guideline, Kehrer made some changes. (See illustration.)
In addition to ensuring the proper specifications for chair height and distance from the monitor were satisfactory, those changes included adjustable keyboard trays to accommodate registrars of varying heights and foot rests to take the pressure off the upper leg, she explains. "When [the registrar] is sitting in a chair, the end of the chair tends to cut off the circulation to the back of the thigh." The foot rest elevates the leg, she adds, so that the pressure is relieved.
To make the furniture that is already in place for a new preregistration center more ergonomically correct, Kehrer says she ordered additional equipment, including arm and wrist rests and telephone headsets.
(Editor’s note: For more information on the OSHA ergonomics standard, visit the agency’s web site at www.osha.gov.)