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Duke Ergonomics Program
  Ergonomics is the science of matching jobs to the worker and products to the user. An effective match is one which optimizes worker performance and productivity as well as health, safety and comfort. The goal of Ergonomics is to improve the well-being of employees through the reduction of workplace discomfort and through the identification and control of ergonomic hazards that may result in personal injuries or illnesses such as cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). To achieve this goal ergonomists design or adapt jobs, work spaces, tools, and equipment to “match the worker.”

Ergonomic Worksite Evaluations and Recommendations

* Worksite evaluations seek to identify workplace risk factors that may cause or aggravate CTDs or acute injuries.

* Evaluations assess the nature and extent of ergonomic hazards or issues which affect the health, efficiency, and morale of employees.

* Written recommendations are included for controlling or abating observed ergonomic risk factors.

Educational/Training Programs

* Office Ergonomics – This course is designed for employees who work in an office environment and typically use a visual display terminal (VDT) or computer. The course provides information about ergonomics, neutral body postures, and how to adjust work areas and computer components to promote neutral body postures and reduce the risk of developing a CTD while working.

* Ergonomics Training for Supervisors and Managers – This course provides supervisors and managers with education, consultation, and direction regarding ergonomic implications of work processes, identification and methods of reducing workplace pain/discomfort, and other aspects of ergonomics related to health, productivity, and employee relations.

* Manual Materials Handling – This course is designed for all employees who lift or handle material on a regular basis and provides information about proper lifting techniques and how to avoid injuries associated with manual material handling.

* Reducing Injuries in the Health Care Environment – This course provides health care workers with an overview of ergonomics and provides them with information that will assist them in developing, improving, and implementing ergonomic programs in their facilities.

Planning Assistance

* Assistance is provided for procedural changes, renovations, or capital purchases such as equipment or furniture which may have ergonomic impact.

Contact Tamara James for further information
(919) 286-1722, extension 271


Ms. Tamara James is a Certified Professional Ergonomist and a Certified Industrial Ergonomist who received her master’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from George Mason University in Virginia. She received her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa.

Ms. James is currently the chief ergonomist for the Duke University Medical Center, having responsibility for hazard evaluation and training for upward of twenty-five thousand workers involved in every aspect of a medical and teaching institution including medical research and laboratories, health care delivery, office work, information management, laundry processing, food preparation, maintenance, grounds keeping, housekeeping, and telecommunications.

Ms. James coordinates all ergonomic-related activities at Duke including, performing ergonomic evaluations of workplaces, developing ergonomic policies, procedures, and guidelines, developing and conducting ergonomic training classes, and providing technical expertise for projects involving purchasing managers, facility planners, operations managers, risk managers, and occupational physicians.

Ms. James and her staff also provide ergonomics consultation services to companies outside of Duke University through Duke’s Occupational Health Services. Typical services include worksite evaluation/hazard assessment and control, training and education, and work area planning assistance. Clients include: Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Bristol-Myers, Collins and Aikman, York Hospital of Pennsylvania, HealthTex, Ericsson/GTE, Exxon, Accurex Environmental, Sphinx Pharmaceuticals, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Ms. James’ previous work experience involves working with many different industries, including telecommunications, medical laboratories, the US Postal Service, oil refining, and nuclear power plant operations. She was actively involved in the direct evaluation of ergonomic hazards, as well as development of training programs, to prevent cumulative trauma disorders related to ergonomic hazards found in these various industries.


Ms. Lamar is a Physical Therapist who received her Bachelor’s degree in 1993 at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She has worked at Duke University and Medical Center since August 1993 and currently has joint responsibilities in the Duke Ergonomics Program within the Occupational and Environmental Safety Office (OESO) and in Duke Employee Occupational Health Services (EOHS). She interacts with employees who work in multiple and various environments within Duke University and Medical Center including acute care nursing, environmental and housekeeping services, food preparation services, research laboratories, animal care and management facilities, office and clerical environments, grounds keeping and maintenance.

Ms. Lamar primarily performs workstation assessments for employees within and outside of Duke who have experienced, or are attempting to prevent, musculoskeletal problems possibly related to the work environment or tasks. They are often consulted for work environment and task assessment for employees upon returning to work after an injury has occurred.

Ms. Lamar is the primary Physical Therapist for Duke’s Employee Occupational Health Services and treats employees who are referred with acute or chronic musculoskeletal injuries. Her role is both educational and rehabilitative.

Ms. Lamar is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Industrial Engineering at North Carolina State University where she is enrolled in the Ergonomics educational program.

Ms. Lamar also worked in the Duke North Hospital providing acute care Physical Therapy for Medical and Surgical patients for 1.5 years before transferring to the outpatient Duke Central Physical Therapy Clinic. She is experienced with the rehabilitation of pre and post organ transplant patients as well as caring for chronic or post-surgical wounds.

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