Employers address ergonomic injuries
have to correct injury-causing workplace conditions that require
repetitive motion, overexertion or awkward posture under proposed
regulations the U.S. Labour Department announced in late fall.
proposal would affect about 1.9 million U.S. work sites - one
of every three - and more than 27 million U.S. workers. The department
estimated the cost to employers at $4.2 billion a year.
Each year, 1.8 million workers have musculoskeletal injuries related
to ergonomic factors and 600,000 people miss some work because
of them, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons include
such problems as carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain and tendinitis.
fact is that work-related musculoskeletal disorders . . . are
the most prevalent, most expensive and most preventable workplace
injuries in the country and it is time we do something about it,"
said Labour Secretary Alexis Herman.
Under the rules, a worker who has an ergonomic injury diagnosed
by a doctor would be entitled to have the work environment fixed
to relieve the cause - by changing the height of an assembly line
or computer keyboard, for example.
In addition, the rule would require all manufacturers and companies
with workers who do manual heavy lifting to provide preventive
The proposed rules, scheduled to be published in Federal Register,
cannot become final until next year at the earliest, after a comment
period that will include public hearings in Washington and other
The OSHA estimated that employers who need to correct problems
will spend an average of $150 US a year per work station fixed.
The total cost was estimated at $4.2 billion a year.
The Labour Department estimated the new rules could prevent injury
to about 300,000 workers annually and save employers $9 billion.
Ergonomic injuries currently cost $15 billion to $20 billion annually
for workers' compensation and $30 billion to $40 billion in other
expenses such as medical care, the agency said.
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