Preventing work-related musculoskeletal problems - ergonomics

This page contains advice from occupational physiotherapists on how you can prevent musculoskeletal problems in the workplace.

Norsk versjon - Forebygg arbeidsrelaterte muskel- og skjelettplager - ergonomi

Topic page on HSE | Pages marked with ergonomics

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the adjustment of the work environment/techniques to fit the individual. You can prevent musculoskeletal problems in part by customizing your workplace. It is easier to prevent damage than it is to fix it.

The workplace should be customized so that all employees can work, move and sit in natural and job-appropriate positions. Employees should also be able to vary their work tasks and positions. Equipment should be adjustable so that it can be customized to fit the individual’s needs. Employees should also have access to appropriate assistive devices if necessary.

The employer is responsible for customizing work tasks so that the employee is not injured. Employees should do their part to improve their work situation, and should notify their employer when they have reached their physical limits.

 Musculoskeletal problems

Musculoskeletal problems refer to pain or discomfort in your muscles, tendons, joints or nerves that reduce your ability to function. The problem is considered work-related if is caused or exacerbated by work or symptoms that occur while you are working.

Musculoskeletal problems may occur because the work:

  • is physically too hard.
  • is too monotonous.
  • is being done in a bad position.
  • has gone on for too long.

When your body reaches its limits, symptoms crop up. This point is individual and may occur acutely or build up over time.

Also see heavy and repetitive work.

What you can do

Variation and movement during the work day is very important to the body. It improves blood circulation, increases pulmonary function, joint mobility, promotes relaxation and more.

Ergonomics for different occupations


Contact information

NTNU's occupational physiotherapists can help you prevent musculoskeletal problems by giving you advice and guidance on your workplace. If you wish to see a physiotherapist, you should:

  1. Inform your immediate supervisor that you are contacting the occupational physiotherapist.
  2. Send an email to the occupational physiotherapists. The email should state who you are, what the problem is, your phone number and where you work (building, floor and room number). The occupational physiotherapist will contact you within a few days.

Tina Hagen, occupational physiotherapist