After 10 years' research, the American Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released an ergonomics programme standard, effective 16 January 2001, aimed at reducing the number and severity of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) caused by exposure to risk factors in the workplace. An estimated 1.8 million workers suffer ergonomic injuries each year. OSHA puts the costs attributable to MSDs at $15 to $20 billion per year.
OSHA wants managers, supervisors, and employees trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of MSDs and the importance of reporting them early. It also wants to see evaluation of work practices and environments and control of recognised hazards through engineering, administrative, work practice or personal protective equipment (PPE) strategies.
An engineering control may be as simple as providing adjustable equipment or rearranging the equipment that is presently beini used. An example of administrate control would be rotating workers through jobs that use different muscle groups. Work practices might include training and posted reminders on how to lift a heavy object properly. OSHA considers PPE (for example providing vibration dampening gloves for workers exposed to hand vibration) as less effective.
Information on OSHA's Ergonom Programme Standard, controls, or ergonomics in general is available.