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May 2015

Three Tips for Using a Mouse

Scott Valorose 2014 Posted by Scott Valorose, CPE, CSP

The following tips should be considered when using your current mouse. These tips are frequently provided during ergonomic assessments as location and use are common contributors of aches and pains. Conduct a self assessment and implement these tips as often as possible.

  1. Location, Location, Location.  Locate the mouse close or in the “mouse zone” – It should be located as close as possible to you and the keyboard, preferably at or near elbow height. Its location should enable the elbow to rest near one’s side. The arm should rest comfortably without outward rotation. The hand should extend from the forearm relatively straight. Priorities around tasks and placement of devices or paperwork may need to be considered. Locating the mouse to one’s non-dominate side is also an option to help keep the mouse close.
  2. Movement.  Move the mouse using the arm – Shared movement with the shoulder and elbow helps distribute repeated motions across multiple joints, tendons, and muscles. Minimize prolonged or constant arm or wrist support to help free up the arm and stop isolated wrist or finger motions. Consider adjusting the Motion pointer speed commonly located under Mouse Properties / Pointer Options.
  3. Grip. Grip the mouse lightly – Partially rest your hand and fingers on the mouse. Avoid pinching it between the thumb and pinky and do not keep the remaining fingers raised off the mouse while navigation, searching, or similar activities.

If more information is needed, consider reviewing the following sources:

If these tips cannot be implemented, it is possible other devices or changes may be necessary.


Sherlock Holmes, the Ergonomist

Maureen-Anderson Posted by Maureen Graves Anderson, M.Sc, CPE

I don’t wear a deerstalker cap nor do I smoke a pipe. Even though I don’t look like Sherlock Holmes, I am inspired by the fictional detective when I perform ergonomic evaluations in the office setting. Let’s pretend that Sherlock Holmes is evaluating your office environment.

When Sherlock meets with people to start the ergonomic evaluation, he not only listens to their description of the problem, but looks for clues.

  • Is the telephone headset dusty? Even though the person claims they use it, Sherlock knows better.
  • Is the chair-mat worn through in one place?  This is a clue that the user sits in the chair as they roll around their work area, rather than getting up and out of their chair.
  • Are the arms on the chair dented and ripped? This may indicate the arms on the chair bang into the office desk, preventing the person from pulling in close to the desk.
  • Is the footrest out of reach of the feet? This means they are not using it.
  • Is there a coffee cup or water bottle on the desk? This means they drink plenty of fluids. It also may indicate they get up frequently to refill the cup and to go to the restrooms.
  • Is there a pair of sneakers under the desk? This is a clue that they may take a walk during breaks. This is a good sign.
  • Is their evidence that they eat lunch at their desk? This is a clue that they are spending too much time sitting at the desk looking at a monitor.
  • Is the keyboard placed on top of papers? This may mean they reach over the papers to the keyboard. Perhaps an inline document holder is necessary.
  • Are there sweaters or blankets piled on the back of the chair? Is there a fan in the work area? This may mean that there are uncomfortable temperature variations in the work environment.
  • If there are no curtains or shades, are there miscellaneous papers taped to the windows? Ah ha! Glare may be the problem.
  • Is the printer on the desk? Hmmm, another observation that the person may not get up and out of the chair often enough.

When it comes to the bodily clues, Sherlock consults with his trusty assistant Dr. Watson:

  • Discomfort on the outside of elbow? This may be due to using the mouse outside the “mouse zone”.
  • Discomfort in the neck and shoulders? Poor head posture may be the culprit. Sherlock checks to see if they have a document holder and a telephone headset. These 2 devices greatly help head posture in the office setting.
  • Discomfort between the shoulder blades? This can be a clue that there is excessive reaching during the workday. Is the keyboard and mouse close to the torso?

So Sherlock has completed the ergonomic evaluation. His keen observational skills have resulted in recommendations that will greatly improve the comfort and safety of the workstation. He puts away his magnifying glass, dons his cape coat and moves on to the next mystery! If you have an ergonomic mystery to solve, check out our e-Ergo resources within the MEMIC Safety Director.

A special nod to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book , The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Hepatitis B Vaccination (and Declination)

Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause serious and even life threatening disease by interfering with the many functions of the liver through viral replication. It is a bloodborne pathogen as the mode of transmission is through contact with blood and bodily fluids. Fortunately, there is a safe vaccine available to prevent infection which is administered in a series of three doses within a six month period, conferring long-term protection through immunological memory.

Occupational exposure to hepatitis B is addressed in OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030.  As stated in the standard, “The employer shall make available the hepatitis B vaccine and vaccination series to all employees who have occupational exposure, and post-exposure evaluation and follow-up to all employees who have had an exposure incident.” The OSHA definition of occupational exposure is “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties.”

The hepatitis B vaccination must be made available at no cost to affected employees after receiving bloodborne pathogens training and within 10 working days of initial assignment unless the employee has already received the full vaccination, antibody testing shows the employee is immune, or the vaccine is contraindicated due to medical reasons. The latter would include anyone who is severely allergic to yeast where the vaccine is produced with a certain type of yeast and the viral envelope protein, HBsAg. Common side effects of the vaccine include mild fever, headache, and soreness at the injection site.

The Bloodborne Pathogens standard allows for the employee to initially decline the vaccination and later, with a change of mind, accept it while still covered under conditions of occupational exposure. In this case, the employer is required to have the employee sign a declination statement as contained in Appendix A of the BBP standard. A hepatitis B vaccine declination form can also be found in MEMIC’s sample Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan located in the Safety Director


Are You Hiring Young Summer Workers?

Millions of young workers are likely to join the workforce this summer. Their labor and contributions are needed in workplaces across the country. But too often these young, seasonal and temporary workers do not receive enough formal safety training to learn about job hazards, how to mitigate them, and the safest methods for accomplishing work. Here are a few simple questions you should answer for new employees before they get started:  

  • What are the hazards of their job? 
  • How much job safety training will they have? 
  • Will they need to use personal protective equipment? If so, how do they ensure proper fit, cleaning, storage, and usage?
  • If they have health and safety concerns, who do they ask? 
  • What do they do in an emergency?
  • What do they do if they are injured at work?

Read our previous blog "Hiring Young Workers and Keeping Them Safe" for help with your answers. There are also many questions you should ask yourself before hiring young workers:   

  • Do you know what jobs are deemed too hazardous by the Department of Labor for workers under 18 years of age? 
  • Do you know how many hours 14 and 15-year-olds can work compared to 16 and 17-year-olds? 
  • Do you know how old someone can be to receive a $4.25/hr youth minimum wage for the first 90 days of employment?

Find answers to questions like these from the Department of Labor website. You can also find out more about using proper training, supervision and clear safety rules to prevent young workers from getting hurt in your workplace in our blog "Younger Workers: Willing To Please Even If It Hurts."

ME state chamber 041415e

OSHA Fall Protection Stand-Down (May 4-15)

Eric Grant 2014 Posted by Eric Grant, CSP

Falls are the leading killer in construction, 36.5% of the total deaths (302 out of 828) in 2013 (OSHA). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 60% of all elevated falls are from a height of less than 10 feet. Slip, trip, and fall exposures exist in all industries and STF related events accounted for 605 workers deaths and 212,760 serious injuries in 2009 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The National Safety Council determined the workers’ compensation costs resulting from STF injuries were $70 billion in 2002. These costs are much greater in today’s economy!

The second annual OSHA Fall Protection Stand-Down, May 4-15 is intended for the construction industry, but all businesses with fall exposures would benefit from preventing fall exposures and accidents. OSHA has created a webpage entitled “Join the National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls in Construction”. Check out their resources, FAQ’s, and information about how to conduct a stand-down.

The intent is to have managers conduct a safety activity that could include toolbox talks, equipment inspections, rescue planning, or a job hazard analysis.

Please evaluate your company fall exposures and consider participating in the OSHA Fall Protection Stand-Down, May 4-15, 2015. Also check out the Safety Director resources available to policyholders, like the worksheet here.

  Fall Protection