ISHN

Enzi emphasizes factors for addressing ergonomic hazards

October 11, 2001
In a letter to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., reiterated findings from a July hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training that he said are important to remember when addressing ergonomic hazards in the workplace.

These findings include:

  • There is no generic "one-size-fits-all" solution. Enzi cited, among others, Dr. Jeremiah Barondess, chairman of the Panel of the 2001 National Academy of Sciences Study on Musculoskeletal Disorders and the Workplace, who in his written testimony stated: "To be effective, interventions must be tailored to the specific work and worker conditions and must be evaluated on a continuing basis to account for changing workplace and worker factors."

  • Available science cannot accurately attribute ergonomic injuries to workplace factors versus non-workplace factors. The letter said that according to the 2001 NAS Study, "[n]one of the common musculoskeletal disorders is uniquely caused by work exposures." The study acknowledged the need for further examination of the relationship between work exposure and non-work factors as well as the difficulty of this task.

  • More research is called for to determine appropriate and effective workplace interventions. The letter referred to the written testimony of Dr. Barondess, which stated that analysis techniques "have not been systematically applied to the study of workplace interventions designed to relieve or prevent musculoskeletal disorders."