Work-related musculoskeletal disorders requiring time away from work fell by more than 26 percent between 1992 and 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Slightly more than one-fourth fewer cases were reported in 2000 compared to 1992.

This a controversial trend disputed by labor and business groups. Unions say numbers are dropping because cases are not being reported and injured workers are brought back to the job for restricted duties. Management groups contend fewer cases reflect more ergo programs being implemented in industry and workplaces becoming generally safer.

Declining ergo-related injuries have been used by the Bush administration to buttress its position that a national ergo standard is not necessary - that industry is taking care of the problems on it own.