Not Much Ergonomic Help From NAS

Compiled By Michael A. Verespej Manufacturers shouldn't get their hopes up that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on ergonomics released earlier this month will make it easier for them to get the workplace ergonomics safety standard overturned. The NAS study -- one year in the making -- points out that the correlation between work and repetitive trauma and back injuries isn't always clear. But the study also concluded that such injuries -- which the NAS says leads to 1 million people losing time from work each year at a cost to business of $45 billion to $54 billion annually -- can be reduced with well-designed intervention programs tailored to specific workplaces. "The weight of the evidence justifies the introduction of appropriate and selected interventions to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders," says the report. "The consequences [of such injuries] justify a broad coherent effort [to implement] preventative strategies." The NAS study also concluded that there was scientific evidence that disorders of the lower back can be attributed to working at particular jobs involving heavy lifting, and that jobs involving repetitive motion, force, and vibration were the primary risk factors in shoulder, arm, and wrist injuries. What's more, the report said that carpenters, operators of industrial machinery, construction laborers, and those who do janitorial work had the highest risk of suffering repetitive motion injuries.

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