Ergonomics, Uncategorized

New Data on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

From 2007 – 2014, more than 139,000 California workers suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The highest rates of CTS were found in industries that manufacture apparel, process food, and perform administrative work, where workers are often required to perform repetitive tasks and/or maintain awkward postures. Women were found to have a CTS rate more than 3x that among men, with persons aged 45-54 most impacted.

You can learn more about CTS in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s October 5th issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Click here to read: Rates of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in a State Workers’ Compensation Information System, by Industry and Occupation – California, 2007 – 2014.

Ergonomics hazards and CTS can be decreased through workplace changes that modify tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment, to prevent injury and illness.

Want to learn more?

The UC Ergonomics Research & Graduate Training Program and Center for Occupational and Environmental Health are pleased to present the Online Ergonomics Training Program. Our goal is to provide experienced and emerging (new) Ergonomists with the latest knowledge, best practices, and preparation so they can get their CPE certification and have a significant impact on worker health and productivity.

Click Here to Learn About the Program




CHAMACOS Highlighted in the New York Times

Dr. Brenda Eskenazi and her research from the CHAMACOS study was highlighted in a full length New York Times feature earlier this week. Congratulations to Dr. Eskenazi and the entire CHAMACOS team!

We encourage you to take a few minutes of your time to read this very important article online here

The Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) works to understand and reduce the risk of environmental threats to children’s health, locally and globally.


Barbara Burgel Appointed to CA Occupational Safety and Health Board

Congratulations to Barbara Burgel, recently appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to the California Occupational Safety Health Standards Board!

Barbara Burgel has been an independent occupational health consultant since 2017. She has been professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco since 2017, where she served as a professor from 1981 to 2017 and as a nurse practitioner from 1979 to 2017, including at the Occupational Medicine Clinic, Community Occupational Health Project and at the Progress Foundation. Burgel has been an external auditor for occupational health at ERM CVS since 2010. She is a member of the American Academy of Nursing, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and the American Nurses Association. Burgel earned Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in nursing from the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing.

Click here to view the full press release.

Ergonomics, Occupational Health, Uncategorized

7 Crucial Steps to Protect Yourself from Computer Injuries

If you notice aches and pains while using the computer, you’re not alone. Musculoskeletal problems can happen to anyone who uses a computer for a long period of time, and can range from minor muscle aches that disappear after a few hours, to persistent tendon problems that can last for years. Don’t let a minor ache progress to a disabling condition, and follow these 7 crucial steps to protect yourself from computer injuries:

  1. Pay attention to tension, discomfort, or pain, and take immediate action to relieve it. The most common body areas to watch are the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck. Problems may vary from aches to pain, burning, numbness, or tingling, and could occur while you’re at your computer, on portable devices, or even while you’re home sleeping. Take a break! If you experience persistent or recurring pain you think may be related to computer use, see a qualified physician or talk to your company’s health and safety staff. The earlier a problem is diagnosed and treated, the less chance there is it will progress.
  2. Stand up and walk away from your computer on a regular basis. Walk around for a few minutes, stretch, and relax at least once every hour. The greatest risk occurs when people use computers intensely for long hours while working in poor postures.
  3. Adjust your workstation so your body is comfortable. Figuring out how to properly set up your workstation, chair, monitor, keyboard, and mouse can be complicated. When you adjust one thing, like the height of your chair, it can affect something else, like your wrist angle. You wouldn’t drive a car without adjusting the seat and mirrors, so take the time to find a comfortable posture at your computer.
  4. Adjust your chair so your feet and back are firmly supported by the floor and seat back. Make sure your arms are also supported by the desk or arm rests. You should lean back in your chair a little to give your postural muscles a rest. Arm rests can be a nuisance; they can press on the elbow or prevent you from pulling your chair forward. Make sure your arm rests are adjusted so you can be close to your desk; your forearms should be supported on the desk or on properly adjusted arm rests.
  5. Position the monitor so the top is about at the level of your eyes, and it is straight in front of you. It should be about an arm length away. If it is difficult to see the small characters, check the glare, monitor resolution, or your eyes (you may need glasses). You should not have to lean forward to see your work. If you are frequently reading from books or papers when using the computer, use a sturdy document holder next to the monitor.
  6. The keyboard should be near the height of your elbows or slightly lower, and the mouse or trackball should be right next to the keyboard. They can be higher if you have a padded surface to rest your forearms on. Be mindful of wrist rests – the wrist is a sensitive part of the body and should not be constantly resting on something.
  7. Try a different keyboard, mouse, and trackball. There are many alternative designs on the market, and it’s up to you to find one that works best for your body. Some people find using a mouse to be uncomfortable, and can try using the mouse with their other hand, or switching to a trackball.

Tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other repetitive strain injuries can be debilitating. Although setting up your computer may seem as simple as pulling up a chair and reaching for the mouse, it takes deliberate intention to use your computer properly. Developing good work habits can help you be productive and comfortable throughout your career.

The UC Ergonomics Research & Graduate Training Program and Center for Occupational and Environmental Health are pleased to present the Online Ergonomics Training Program. Our goal is to provide experienced and emerging (new) Ergonomists with the latest knowledge, best practices, and preparation so they can get their CPE certification and have a significant impact on worker health and productivity.

Click Here to Learn more

Continuing Education, Environmental Health, Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health, Occupational Health Nursing, safety and health, Uncategorized

Pesticide Exposure & Health – Wednesday, June 20th in Oakland, CA


Join COEH-CE on Wednesday, June 20th, in Oakland, CA for a half-day course on Pesticide Exposure & Health: Protecting Agricultural Communities.

Agenda, Speakers, and more information here


About the Course:

Exposure to pesticides has been linked to a wide variety of short-term and long-term health effects. This course will explore the relationship between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, residential proximity to insecticides and fumigants with neurodevelopment, and associations between insecticide exposure and neurodevelopment in children.

Learners will review findings from The Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study, a birth cohort study conducted in the agricultural Salinas Valley of California. Learners will also review case studies that demonstrate how state pesticide and labor laws and regulations are designed to prevent exposure to pesticides, and will identify areas of improvement to protect agricultural workers from pesticide exposure.


About the Instructors:

Anne Katten, MPH – Anne Katten is an industrial hygienist. She has worked with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation for over 25 years. Her work includes analysis of pesticide illness episode investigations, pesticide risk assessments and regulatory proposals and advocating for improved enforcement and policy changes to reduce farmworkers exposure to pesticides and other work hazards. Earlier in her career she worked as a research assistant at a seed company.

Samuel Goldman, MD, MPH – Dr. Goldman received his medical degree from the University of Texas, Houston in 1987. He trained in Preventive Medicine and earned a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993. He is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco in the Division of Occupational & Environmental Medicine and the Department of Neurology, and is an attending physician in the Environmental Medicine clinic at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Dr. Goldman has published extensively on the epidemiology of neurodegenerative diseases, with a focus on environmental risk factors. Among these are pesticides, solvents, smoking and traumatic brain injury, and the interaction of these risk factors with genetic susceptibility factors.

Robert Gunier, PhD – Dr. Gunier is currently an assistant researcher at the Center for Environmental research and Children’s Health (CERCH) in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. He received his MPH and PhD in environmental health sciences from UC Berkeley. Dr. Gunier has worked for 20 years conducting exposure assessment and epidemiological analyses for studies of children’s environmental health including birth outcomes, neurodevelopment, respiratory function and cancer. He previously worked at the California Department of Public Health in the Environmental Health Investigations Branch.

Click here to learn more & register