Therapist Versus Ergonomist for Office Evaluations


Here at Atlas many of our consultants who perform office ergonomic evaluations are physical therapists (PT) or occupational therapists (OT) by education and training. Our Certified Professional Ergonomist on staff often gets questioned on the efficacy of using a PT or OT to perform an office ergonomic evaluation versus using a certified ergonomist. His response is always the same, “Often the pain or discomfort a person is experiencing in the office has very little to do with the office workstation itself, and for that very reason a therapist, with ergonomics expertise, is actually the best resource you can use for helping to reduce that person’s pain or discomfort.”

The fact is, there is low risk of musculoskeletal injury in office environments. If this was not true, we would see high incident and lost-day rates, and that just isn’t the case. Research actually shows that much of the pain or discomfort experienced in the office is not due to the office furniture, task demands, or workstation configuration, but rather due to pre-existing conditions or factors not related to work. Therapists are well versed at questioning and investigative techniques to get at the root cause of pain and discomfort, and most have a wonderful bedside manner that encourages people to open up and share all pertinent information. Therapists are also experienced in providing recommendations on interventions that can better address these non-work related causes, like specific muscle strengthening, stretching, and cold or hot therapy. These interventions may be exactly what the person needs to get over that back pain from shoveling snow over the weekend or the stiff neck from sleeping on it awkwardly. And don’t worry about recordability because all of these interventions fall under OSHA’s definition of first aid.

If you’re in need of responsive ergonomics professionals who will take a holistic approach to addressing people’s needs, give us a call.