Ergonomics done right.®
June 17th, 2019

Ergo U: Washington University: Workplace Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Opioids

In the series Ergo U:  Ergonomics Research Notes from the Field, Humantech Director of Research and Ergonomics Engineer Blake McGowan meets with ergonomics researchers from leading universities and associations across the country to share their latest findings.


From left to right: Dartt, Dale, Evanoff, McGowan

Field Notes: “It’s rare that I meet researchers during my first Ergo U visit. However, when I arrived at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri and immediately met Drs. Brad Evanoff and Ann Marie Dale, we got down to business discussing the relationship between occupational exposures— biomechanical and psychosocial, and musculoskeletal disorders.

Blake’s Take: “Having summarized many articles by Brad and Ann Marie in the Humantech Bottom Line Video Series, and having worked with both of them on the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Musculoskeletal Health Cross-sector Council, we had never met. I was grateful to meet them in-person and be the beneficiary of their time and insights. I most enjoyed discussing their research on the association between workplace musculoskeletal disorders and opioid use and abuse. The resulting data may elevate the importance of ergonomics as a solution to the opioid crisis in America and will provide the societal costs of workplace musculoskeletal disorders.”

“We also discussed the biomechanical and psychosocial risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome, how forceful exertions are a primary occupational risk factor, the updates to the 2018 American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®) Threshold Limit Value (TLV®) for Hand Activity, and how the new TLVs better protect workers from carpal tunnel syndrome. Their research was done in collaboration with Dr. Marcus Yung, Research Scientist at the Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness, and Performance (CISWP), and former Humantech intern.”

Additional Activities: Prior to meeting with Brad and Ann Marie, Blake had breakfast with Dr. Angela Dartt and recalled the days they worked as AIHA Ergonomics Committee Officers. Currently, Angie is the Director in Office of Chemical Safety and Chemical Hygiene Officer at Washington University in St. Louis.


Dr. Brad Evanoff (MD: Washington University School of Medicine) is a Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine where he is an active teacher, researcher, and treating physician. Brad started the Occupational Safety and Health Research program at Washington University in 1994. His research focuses primarily on preventing injuries and musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.

Dr. Ann Marie Dale (PhD: Washington University School of Medicine) is the Assistant Professor of Medicine and Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine. Ann Marie has over 30 years of experience in the clinical treatment of work-related upper extremity conditions and in worksite based prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.