Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US government agency that enforces workplace health and safety regulations, released on November 22, 1999, the Proposed Ergonomics Standard at a press conference held by Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman.
Ergonomics is the science of fitting the job to the worker. When there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the worker, it can result in a musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries and disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs. They do not include injuries resulting from slips, trips, falls or similar accidents. Examples of MSDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, sciatica, herniated disc and low back pain.
According to OSHA:
“About 1.6 million employers (workers involved in manual handling or manufacturing production jobs) would need to implement a basic ergonomics program -- assigning someone to be responsible for ergonomics; providing information to employees on the risk of injuries, signs and symptoms to watch for and the importance of reporting problems early; and setting up a system for employees to report signs and symptoms. Full programs would be required only if one or more work-related MSDs actually occurred. The proposal also offers a "Quick Fix" alternative to setting up a full ergonomics program. Correct a hazard within 90 days, check to see that the fix works and no further action is necessary. In addition, a "grandfather" clause gives credit to firms that already have effective ergonomics programs in place and are working to correct hazards.”
The OSHA proposal identifies six elements for a full ergonomics program:
According to OSHA: Copies of the proposed regulatory text, the introduction and public participation sections and materials from the news conference are available on OSHA's website at:
OSHA is also making available at no charge a CD-ROM with the regulatory text, the preamble, the complete regulatory analysis and the full discussion of health effects. The CD-ROM and printed copies can be ordered over the web or by calling 202-693-1888.