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SGNA Position Statement: Ergonomics in the Gastroenterology Setting

Posted in Articles, Associations

The following is a position statement from the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates regarding ergonomics in the gastroenterology setting. It's the most recent guideline on this topic for gastroenterology nurses.


The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc. (SGNA) assumes no responsibility for the practices or recommendations of any member or other practitioner, or for the policies and procedures of any practice setting. Nurses and associates function within the limitations of licensure, state nurse practice act, and/or institutional policy.


For the purpose of this document, SGNA has adopted the following definitions:

Administrative controls refers to management dictated work practices that reduce or prevent workers from ergonomic risk factors. They include procedures to reduce the duration, frequency or intensity of exposure to the hazard. Administrative control strategies include modifications of job rules and procedures, job rotation or modified of duties or length of shift and training workers to recognize ergonomic risk factors so they can adopt stress reduction technique while performing their work duties (Nelson & Baptiste, 2004).

Behavior or work-practice (training) controls refers to educating staff about causes of musculoskeletal injury, body mechanics, or joint protection principles such as techniques including manual patient lifting, training in proper use of lift equipment/devices, and the use of unit based peer leaders (Nelson & Baptiste, 2004).

Control methods refers to changes made to the environment, equipment, work processes and employees’ behavior to decrease the risk of musculoskeletal injury. They include training and administrative and engineering controls.

Engineering controls refers to changes made in the work environment, layout, tools, or equipment used on the job, or changing the ways a task is completed to reduce or prevent work-related musculoskeletal hazards (Nelson & Baptiste, 2004).

Ergonomics refers to the study of the physical and cognitive demands of a task in relation to an individual’s capacity (Shergill, McQuaid, & Remple, 2009).

Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) refers to a repetitive strain injury.


Nursing has one of the highest incidences of work-related musculoskeletal injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries result when the physical requirements of the job are greater than the physical capabilities of the worker (Odom-Forren, 2005). Multiple occupational activities in gastroenterology nursing can injure the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs (AORN, 2007). 

For example, injuries can occur when using forceps, maintaining awkward postures for certain procedures, and during patient handling tasks. Overuse injuries of the upper extremities include high pinch force, repetitive hand activities, awkward postures, vibration and contact stress (Shergill et al., 2009). 

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