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Ergonomics in the Trades

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What causes CTD?

Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD) most frequently occur as a result of strain from performing the same task on a continuous basis. The three main factors which place you at risk for CTD are:

  • Repetitive Motion: performing the same movement continually.
  • Excessive Force: placing extra pressure and strain on a particular body part.
  • Awkward Posture: placing your body in an unnatural position.

Other factors that can place you at risk for developing CTD include working with vibrating tools, working in a cold environment, and being in poor physical condition.

For more information about preventing injuries:

To minimize your risk of developing CTD:

  • Analyze the risks you may be exposed to on a particular job and be aware of your body position and potential strains as you work.
  • Minimize those risks by finding ways to reduce repetitive motion and excessive force.
  • Neutralize awkward postures that may cause strain and tension by placing your body in a natural, relaxed position where your shoulders and back are relaxed, your neck is straight, and your arms and elbows are close to your body.


  • Take breaks to stretch and rest muscles during repetitive motion. Shrug your shoulders, shake your arms, stretch your legs and back, and rotate your ankles and wrists. Try some of the stretches suggested on this website.
  • Lift objects with your leg strength rather than your back, and avoid twisting your back. Carry heavy objects close to your body. Always push loads and use carts with vertical handles to reduce strain.
  • Store frequently lifted materials at a level between the waist and shoulders.
  • Check your work height so that you can work without slouching over or reaching up.
  • Wear the right equipment when working in hot, cold, or noisy environments. Check your shoes to make sure they provide comfort, support, and shock absorption.
  • When standing for prolonged periods of time, avoid back, neck and knee strain by placing one foot on a low stool or standing footrest. Change standing positions frequently. Wear comfortable shoes, stand on a cushioned mat, or order some memory foam insoles. (Refer to the lab supplies webpage for product information).

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