Environmental Health & Safety

Occupational Safety

EH&S Offers OSHR Teleworking Tips, Ergonomics Information and Training 

State Safety Month presents an opportunity to celebrate a culture of safety and a renewed focus on workplace and general environmental hazards that may result in incidents or injuries to employees. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of the importance of the physical safety and well-being of all employees, even when teleworking. Please take some time to review important safety teleworking tips (link to PDF). 

In addition, please also review UNCW's Ergonomic Guidance document and information on Office Ergonomics training opportunities available through Vivid Learning

Ergonomic Assessments

The University of North Carolina Wilmington's (UNCW) program is taken from information provided by the North Carolina Ergonomics Resource Center www.theergonomicscenter.com, for the purpose of making employees conscious of how they are working. Even using "ergonomically fit" equipment, chairs, and workstations, employees' need to be sure they are working in the best manner possible and doing what is best for their body by reducing stressors in work methods.


When setting up your workstation and job materials, items used most frequently (many times during the day) should be placed within immediate forearm reach. Items used less frequently (once or twice a day) can be within a full arm's reach. Those items seldom used (once or twice a week or less) may be placed farthest away.

Properly Adjust Your Workstation:

Adjust the chair height so that the elbows are the same height as the work surface
(keyboard tray or desk)

  • If the feet do not touch the floor at this chair height, obtain a footrest to support the feet while sitting
  • Adjust the chair backrest height so that the round part of the backrest fits into the lumbar curve of the spine
  • Adjust the chair armrests so that they are slightly lower than the elbows. If the armrests cannot be adjusted and tend to confine the arms, have them removed
  • Place the keyboard and mouse as close together as possible, at the same height and depth.
  • Place the keyboard and mouse directly in front of the body, within forearm reach.
  • Adjust the height of the monitor so that the top row of characters is at eye level. For bifocal wearers, lower the monitor further to minimize neck bending
  • Adjust the tilt of the monitor downward to minimize glare from overhead lights if it is a problem
  • Place the monitor about arm's length away from you
  • Place the document holder at the same height and depth as the monitor screen Ergonomics is the study of how to adapt jobs to the people who perform them. To stay safe and healthy on the job, everyone must move, lift, sit and perform various tasks in ways that do not result in what are called musculo-skeletal injuries (MSDs).

Rest Breaks:
Computer work for long periods of time can cause muscle fatigue and dry eyes. The best way to reduce the discomfort is to take short breaks frequently during the day. Stand up and move around. Even incorporate some simple stretching exercises during your breaks. These breaks promote muscle improvement, blood circulation, and significantly reduce fatigue and discomfort. A good rule of thumb is to take thirty (30) second breaks every twenty (20) to thirty (30) minutes.

Call Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) 962.3057 for an ergonomic evaluation for your specific work area.

It is the supervisor's responsibility to evaluate the need for training and personal protective equipment and safe operating procedures within thirty (30) days, for every employee under the following conditions:

  • When a new employee is hired
  • When the method of performing the task changes
  • When a new potential hazard is introduced to the workplace

The Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) Department is available to assist the supervisor. The original JHA will be retained by the supervisor and a copy forwarded to EH&S. After review EH&S will outline training/PPE needs and comments and suggestions for a safe operating procedure with the supervisor.


The UNCW JHA Training Check List, identifies all the OSHA required training based on the question"How often does the employee perform a certain task?" This form can be obtained on the link provided above.

In completing the above form, carefully consider if any of these tasks are part of the employees job responsibility and mark the applicable block indicating the frequency of performance and level of involvement along with any comments.

Personal Protective Equipment:
The UNCW Job Hazard Assessment (JHA) Checklist which can be found in the UNC-Wilmington PPE Policy, identifies hazards that could cause injuries or illnesses that can be avoided with use of PPE. This form can be obtained on the link provided above.

Safe Operating Procedures:
Safe operating procedures are written step-by-step procedures for a specific nonrepetitive task that may be hazardous or critical. The purpose of a safe operating procedure is to provide written guidance for a particular task so the employee can successfully complete it without risk of injury or illness. For The purpose of the UNCW Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is to identify safety training, personal protective equipment (PPE) and Safe Operating Procedures necessary for UNCW employees to comply with OSHA regulations and ensure a safe and secure environment for the university community.

For example, a safe operating procedure with appropriate warnings and cautions would best be developed and used for tasks such as confined space entry, lockout-tagout, laser equipment use, etc. Although UNCW safety policies already exist, safe operating procedures are required to provide task specific safety instructions. EH&S can provide a sample program and is available to assist supervisors in developing a safe operating procedure. Upon completion, the original should be kept in the department, a copy provided to the employee and a copy forwarded to EH&S.


Bloodborne Pathogens (PDF)

  • The OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1030 requires employers to provide a safe and healthful work environment for all employees who face a significant health risk as the result of occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials because they may contain bloodborne pathogens including Hepatitis B Virus which causes Hepatitis B, a serious liver disease, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). OSHA concludes that this significant health risk can be minimized or eliminated using a combination of task identification, engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, training, medical follow-up of exposure incidents, vaccination (where applicable), and other provisions.

Slip / Trip & Falls