Today Congresswoman Pelosi [D-CA], a Senior member of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee and a strong advocate for ergonomics workplace protections, made the following statement regarding today's newly released report by the National Academy of Sciences [NAS] entitled "Musculoskeletal Disorders and the Workplace".
Pelosi stated the NAS report clearly justifies the need for an Ergonomics Standard to safeguard workers. Furthermore, this expert panel demonstrates, once again, there is clear scientific and medical evidence linking workplace risks with ergonomic injuries and justifying interventions to safeguard workplaces which will prevent hundreds of thousands of unnecessary worker injuries.
Today's new NAS report reinforces the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts during the Clinton Administration to protect America's working men and women from ergonomic injuries. The conclusions of these independent experts could not have come at a better time to reinforce the need for workplace safety and health protections, said Pelosi. I commend the NAS report's conclusions and am pleased that it is consistent with the new Ergonomics Standard which will prevent and reduce ergonomic injuries.
This new Standard will prevent 460,000 musculoskeletal disorders annually and save America's economy at least $4 billion. The Labor Department's Ergonomics Standard was issued late last year and took effect on January 16, 2001. As a senior Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Pelosi has fought to stop conservatives from blocking these worker protections.
This expert panel, commissioned by Congress, worked for the last two years on workplace issues. The panel's report concluded "The weight of the evidence justifies the introduction of appropriate and selected interventions to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders of the low back and upper extremities". For example, the panel demonstrated there is a clear relationship between back disorders and heavy physical work, frequent bending and twisting, and manual material handling. The report also concluded "To be effective, intervention programs should include employee involvement, employer commitment, and the development of integrated programs that address equipment design, work procedures, and organizational characteristics", all elements that the Labor Department Ergonomics Standard addresses.