Area of EXPERTISE: Ergonomics

The Ergnomics program -- led by Prof. Carisa Harris-Adamson --  prepares students to identify and evaluate risks for musculoskeletal disorders at the workplace (e.g., low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.) and design workplace solutions to reduce these risks. The design work may focus on tools, workstations, tasks, or work environment. Coursework includes ergonomics, safety, industrial engineering, physiology, biostatistics, epidemilogy, and policy and risk analysis. This is a joint program between the EHS Division, Mechanical Engineering, and UCSF.

Research training is available for a limited number of well-focused students through the joint UCSF/Berkeley Ergonomics Laboratory. Research training is provided in applied and basic research areas. The aim of the applied research is to provide industry and agencies with immediately useful engineering guidelines for the design of hand tools, workstations, and hand intensive tasks. These projects have involved agriculture, biotechnology, computer intensive work, and assembly work. More than half of the funding for this research comes from industry. The aim of the basic research is to better understand the biological mechanisms by which repeated body loading leads to harmful effects on cells and tissue structures. Examples of these projects include the effects of hand postures on pressure inside the carpal tunnel, effects of oxygen deprivation on tendon cell gene expression, and effects of vertebral loading on cell death and tissue remodeling. Eventually, this data will inform the applied sciences by identifying the specific harmful components and the levels of repetitive loading of the human body that result in damage.

Further information is available on the Ergonomics Program website.