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Results of NIOSH/OSHA “Effective Practices” Ergonomics Conference Now Available on Internet

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
August 29, 1997

When a capacity crowd of industry leaders gathered in Chicago last January to examine musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive stress injuries, discussion centered on finding solutions to reduce one of the nation’s most common and costly occupational health problems. The proceedings from the two-day conference are now available on the Internet.

More than 1,000 people attended the national conference co-sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Called “Ergonomics: Effective Workplace Practices and Programs,” the seminar was designed to provide a forum for business, government, labor, and academia representatives to share information about effective workplace ergonomics programs.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are now the nation’s largest workplace health problem. Each year, more than 700,000 workers develop work-related overexertion or repetitive stress injuries or disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, accounting for more than 60 percent of all occupational illnesses, and resulting in at least $20 billion annually in worker’s compensation costs.

“We are pleased that we can help our partners from the conference share their insights with new audiences, particularly those in the small business community, using the timely, accessible, and popular format of the Internet,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H.

The agenda offered a balanced and wide variety of speakers to encourage a dialog among those actually in workplaces attempting to implement successful ergonomics programs. More than 80 speakers, including industry officials who manage ergonomics programs, as well as workers, union leaders, and occupational health professionals, provided presentations at the conference. The presentations contained in the proceedings from the conference describe programs and approaches that already have been instituted in a wide variety of U.S. workplaces to protect workers from job-related musculoskeletal problems.

Though discussions covered a variety of topics, such as worksite analysis, training, program evaluation, and employee involvement, several themes cut across all industries, including: ergonomics programs are practical and reduce business costs; most companies with ergonomics programs follow similar practices consistent with information in the NIOSH ergonomics primer and with current OSHA ergonomics management guidelines for meatpacking plants; management commitment and employee participation is critical; and many fixes are simple and inexpensive.

The proceedings can be found on the NIOSH home page at The proceedings of the national conference can be accessed via OSHA’s home page at under “Ergonomics.”

Further information on job-related musculoskeletal disorders is available on both web sites. Additional information can be obtained by calling NIOSH at 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800- 356-6474).