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Washington Court Hotel – Atrium Ballroom
525 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

May 6, 2003

The meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) was opened by Dr. Carter Kerk, Chair of NACE, at approximately 9:30 am on Tuesday, May 6, 2003. About 25 members of the public were present for the opening of the meeting. NACE members Edward Bernacki and James Koskan were unable to attend.

The following NACE members were present:

  • Lisa M. Brooks, C.I.E.,
Health and Safety Program Manager for International Paper, Memphis, TN
  • Paul A. Fontana
Pesident/CEO, Work Rehabilitation, Inc., Lafayette, LA
  • Willis J. Goldsmith, Esq.
Jones Day, Washington, DC
  • Morton L. Kasdan, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Surgery, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
  • Carter J. Kerk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, SD
  • George P. LaPorte
Ergonomics Manager, NATLSCO Loss Control Services, Division of Kemper Insurance Companies, Lake Zurich, IL
  • Barbara McCabe
Program Manager, Operating Engineers National Hazmat Program, Operating Engineers, Beaver, WV
  • J. Dan McCausland
Consultant, Worker Safety and Human Resources; and Director, American Meat Institute, Madison, WI
  • Audrey Nelson, Ph.D., RN
Center Director, VHA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, Suncoast Development Research; Research Professor, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
  • Lida Orta-Anes, Ph.D.
Graduate School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Roxanne Rivera
President and CEO, PMR Construction Services, Inc., Albuquerque, NM
  • W. Corey Thompson
National Safety and Health Specialist, American Postal Workers Union, Washington, DC
  • Richard Wyatt, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Aon Ergonomic Services, Huntsville, AL


The committee members introduced themselves to the public and approved the minutes of the previous meeting. Susan Sherman, Department of Labor’s legal counsel for NACE, submitted a letter from the AFL-CIO for inclusion into the minutes for this meeting. The AFL-CIO letter was prepared to clarify any possible misconceptions regarding the AFL-CIO’s position on the definition of a musculoskeletal disorder. 

OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Gary Visscher acknowledged the progress that the committee has made in the short time that NACE has been in existence. Mr. Visscher indicated that the working groups that will break out of the main committee are the best way for NACE to move forward, and the Agency is anticipating the work plans that the working groups will develop.

Chair Kerk reviewed the charge of NACE during his opening remarks and restated the five goals of the committee:
  • Advise OSHA on the need for industry- or task-specific guidelines.
  • Identify gaps in existing research.
  • Identify projected research needs and efforts.
  • Identify methods of providing outreach and assistance.
  • Identify ways to increase communication among stakeholders on the issue of ergonomics.
Chair Kerk outlined four tasks that NACE must address to move forward in achieving these five goals. The first task is to gain an understanding of NACE’s mission, based on the first meeting held on January 22, 2003. The second task is to study pertinent issues, and this topic will be the focus of the working groups that will meet later in the meeting. The third task is to develop recommendations for moving forward, and the fourth task is to work toward a consensus on those recommendations.

Chair Kerk outlined the tentative NACE meeting schedule for the future. Additional meetings are tentatively scheduled for September 2003, January 2004, May 2004, and September 2004. 

Chair Kerk concluded his opening remarks with a review of the meeting’s agenda. The morning portion of the meeting is devoted to receiving updates on OSHA’s ergonomics-related activities since the previous meeting. During the afternoon session, the committee will break out into working groups to address specific issues.

Kim Lazor, Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of OSHA John L. Henshaw, provided an update on OSHA’s four-pronged approach to ergonomics. The first prong is related to guidelines. Ms. Lazor reported that OSHA issued the final nursing home guidelines on March 13, 2003. These guidelines were well received by the stakeholders, as the final guidelines incorporated many comments received during the public comment period. The final guidelines are in an easier to read, shorter format than the initial draft. Upcoming guidelines will include retail groceries, poultry processing, shipyards, and more. Each of these guidelines will have a 60-day comment period. The shipyard guidelines are a new development since the previous NACE meeting and are being prepared based on interest from both shipyard labor and industry groups.

Ms. Lazor provided information on the agency’s enforcement activities, the second prong of the ergonomic approach; however, she acknowledged that enforcement was not part of the NACE charter. To date, 469 ergonomic inspections for nursing homes have been completed as part of the National Emphasis Program (NEP). There have been 156 site-specific inspections conducted, but no nursing homes were included. Eighty-five (85) hazard alert letters have also been issued. Four Section 5(a)(1) citations for ergonomics have been issued. Three citations were for nursing homes, and one was for a steel door manufacturer. All four citations have been settled.

Ms. Lazor stated that the third prong, outreach and assistance, provides support for both general ergonomic concerns as well as guideline-specific concerns. An example of guideline specific support is the nursing home Web cast that is available on OSHA’s public Web site. The public Web site is the premier way of getting information out to the public. The Alliance Program is another positive means for providing assistance. To date there are 13 signed Alliance agreements, including a recently signed agreement with a nursing home. Two more Alliance agreements are to be signed in the next week. Education continues to serve an important role in OSHA’s outreach and assistance. OSHA’s Outreach Training Institutes (OTI) have been given the ergonomics curriculum. Other successes in the outreach and assistance area include the strategic partnership between OSHA and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the OSHA Consultation Service.

Ms. Lazor stated that the fourth prong is NACE. NACE’s challenge will be finding ways to add value to the guidelines, to work together, to move dialogue forward, and to reduce ergonomic injuries.

Chair Kerk asked Ms. Lazor to clarify what she meant by “more guidelines to come” during her review of upcoming guidelines. Ms. Lazor replied that no specific industries have been identified; rather, OSHA is looking to NACE to help identify industries that could benefit from guidelines.

Dr. Audrey Nelson asked for clarification regarding the difference between an Alliance and a Strategic Partnership. Ms. Lazor indicated that an alliance is industry-wide as opposed to a specific company. Alliances are more broadly based and are usually written for a 1-year period. Strategic Partnerships are generally written for a specific company and typically include an inspection component.

Roxanne Rivera inquired as to whether the 85 hazard alert letters included a resolution for the hazard. Ms. Lazor could not confirm that a resolution was part of the letter, but it was her understanding that the letters identified an issue of concern and provided information on where to seek help on resolving the issue.

Dr. Morton L. Kasdan gave a brief presentation on ergonomic terminology. Dr. Kasdan stated there is chronic misuse of the term “ergonomics” and stressed the importance of the committee agreeing on consistent terminology. Dr. Kasdan submitted a list of terms and the three sources used in the development of the list.

Scott Schneider, Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America, gave a presentation on ergonomic solutions for construction work. Mr. Schneider stated that construction workers suffer 50 percent more musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) than other industries. Mr. Schneider showed a short video of Frank Gilbreth’s motion analysis studies of bricklayers in the 1880s, followed by a slide show of common construction activities that can result in MSDs. Some of these common construction activities are knee kickers for carpet layers and tying rebar. Mr. Schneider provided information on several databases for construction ergonomic solutions that various organizations have developed. He also provided examples of ergonomic training programs that his organization has developed and indicated that his group would like to see these types of programs incorporated into a construction ergonomics guideline.

Chair Kerk stated he was unable to find information on the training programs in the materials Mr. Schneider provided. Mr. Schneider stated that this information could be obtained at www.LHSFNA.org. Chair Kerk requested that Mr. Schneider provide hard copies of this material to him and he would then distribute the materials to NACE.

Ms. Sherman requested that Mr. Schneider also submit a copy of his slide show to the committee so that it could be included in the record.

Dr. Kasdan asked what definition of ergonomics Mr. Schneider’s group used. Mr. Schneider replied that they use a very narrow definition and use ergonomics to refer to a chronic injury. Dr. Kasdan inquired as to whether drug and/or alcohol use was a considered factor contributing to injuries. Mr. Schneider replied that while it is acknowledged that drug and alcohol use on the job can be a contributing risk factor, this was not the focus of his presentation. Dr. Kasdan expressed concern that the slides showed a disregard to personal protective equipment (PPE) by pointing out several slides that showed a lack of safety glasses. Dr. Kasdan suggested that the speaker correct the slides for future presentations.

Ms. Rivera asked if the data presented included studies on employer negligence versus employee negligence, and if any studies had been conducted to verify that the equipment was being used correctly. Mr. Schneider indicated that no such studies were included in his data. His studies focused on the risks and solutions. He acknowledged that the next step should be to make sure that the solutions are applied. This step would involve finding a way to change culture and habits. Ms. Rivera also expressed concern that the bricklayer slides used in the presentation do not reflect real world practices. The slides showed the bricklayers carrying bricks and mortar; however, in a real world setting, another laborer typically is assigned to transport the materials.

Dan McCausland stated that he was not familiar with Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America and asked if this organization was involved with trade associations such as the Associated General Contractors of America. Mr. Schneider replied that Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America was predominately involved with the Washington Industrial Safety & Health state plan program (WISHA) and that it was developing training programs to support WISHA’s ergonomic standard.

Paula White, Director of Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs, began her presentation with an update on the Strategic Partnership between OSHA and USPS. The agreement was signed several weeks ago and focuses on the implementation of an ergonomic risk reduction process and the control of risk factors. The partnership was formed after the USPS completed a pilot program at their Albany, New York, facility. Highlights of the pilot program included improvements in employee morale and a noticeable reduction in injuries. Ms. White outlined the key components of the program.
  • Management leadership
    • Ownership
    • Certified professional ergonomist
    • Effective reporting system
    • Committed to prompt responses
    • Dedicated site coordinator
    • JLMS&H site core group
  • Employer participation
    • Active involvement
    • Early reporting of MSDs
    • Small group meetings
  • Job hazard assessment and control
    • Share solutions, don’t reinvent the wheel
  • Training
    • Development of specific courses that are taught by OSHA and certified professional ergonomists
    • Courses cover all types of USPS workers
  • Process evaluation
    • An ongoing process to correct deficiencies
  • Implementation process
    • A two-day process: day 1 is a kickoff with senior plant management and union representatives; day 2 is a kickoff with JLMS&H committee
    • Includes five training classes, task evaluations, and controls
For fiscal year (FY) 2003, 30 USPS sites nationwide will be included in the program. The number of sites increases to 65 in FY 2004 and 80 in FY 2005.


Corey Thompson stated that the key aspect during the agreement process was the development of the JLMS&H committees. The JLMS&H committees are the driving force, as this is a four-partner agreement, and in order for the agreement to be successful, all partners need to buy into it.

Dr. Richard Wyatt asked if there was a standardized way, such as posting to a Web site, to share the solutions noted under the third key component (job hazard assessment and control). Ms. White stated she was not sure about the procedure for sharing solutions, but would research this question and report back to the committee.

Dr. Lida Orta-Anes asked what tools had been identified to measure the success of the program. Ms. White responded that the agency would be building off the methodology used in the Albany pilot program.

Willis J. Goldsmith inquired about the funding for the program. Ms. White replied that the federal government would bear the costs associated with sending OSHA staff to the kickoff meetings and other required meetings. Beyond these expenditures, no direct funds will be provided, only non-monetary support. Mr. Thompson also responded that the USPS has committed to funding the entire 3-year program; however, the actual costs are not known at this time.

Ms. White continued her presentation with a review of the Alliance Program. At the present time there are 23 national Alliances and 13 ergonomic-specific Alliances. Two additional Alliances will be signed this week. An Alliance with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses will be signed on May 7, and an Alliance with the Air Conditioning Contractors Association will be signed on May 8. North Carolina OSHA signed an Alliance with the furniture manufacturing industry in September 2002.

Ms. White provided highlights of the Airline Alliance. This is a very active Alliance that includes 13 airlines. The Alliance is looking at ways to improve the baggage handling “etool” and to expand to cover all aspects of baggage handling. The goal is to post the improved etool by early summer. The Alliance participants will be participating in a VPP seminar on June 4, 2003. In September, the Alliance will co-sponsor a workshop on workplace safety and health at the National Safety Congress.

Ms. White noted that another new alliance involves the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI). While the Alliance will address many concerns in the plastics industry, such as lockout/tagout, amputations, and machine guarding, it will also address ergonomic concerns. OSHA will work with SPI at its conference in June by running an ergonomics workshop.

Ms. White summarized the Alliance Program in general as an effective avenue to address concerns such as ergonomics in a non-antagonistic atmosphere. Alliances also allow work to start on a board level and then narrow the focus to specific sites. It is the Agency’s hope that as OSHA and its Alliance Program Participants begin to appear together at various public venues, those not already involved in the Alliance Program will see the advantages of working with the Agency and their joint commitment to address problems and how effectively they can work together.

Dr. Kasdan asked Ms. White for her definition of ergonomics and MSDs. Ms. White indicated that an OSHA definition of ergonomics does not exist, but that they are primarily looking at MSDs. She added that they are using the term ergonomics in a broad sense. Ms. White then indicated that they define MSDs in recordkeeping, but she could not recite the definition from memory right then.

Ms. Rivera indicated she agreed with Dr. Kasdan regarding the need for specific definitions. Ms. Rivera also expressed concerns about small businesses being able to implement the guidelines, as the majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses that do not have the financial resources associated with trade associations. Ms. White reiterated that there is no legal requirement for businesses of any size to implement the guidelines, as they are “voluntary guidelines.” Ms. Rivera agreed that the guidelines are voluntary; however, a company can still be cited for an ergonomics problem, whether or not they have participated in implementing the guidelines. Ms. White stated that in OSHA’s citation policy, if an employer is addressing ergonomic hazards, the Agency would not issue a 5(a)1 citation.

Lisa M. Brooks asked what OSHA brought to the table with respect to the Alliance Program. Ms. White indicated that OSHA provides the expertise to produce etools. The industry tells OSHA’s Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) staff what is needed, and SLTC develops the etool. In addition, OSHA and the Alliance Program Participants work together on joint training and education efforts by pooling resources.

Dr. Kasdan suggested that in the future, every presenter should submit a written definition of ergonomics before they are permitted to address the committee. Mr. Goldsmith stated that specific definitions would only be necessary when it was an enforcement issue. When dealing with the voluntary guidelines, the only thing that matters with respect to definitions of specific terms was if the specific parties involved in that unique situation all agreed on the terminology. Due to time constraints, the Chair halted the discussion on definitions.

Chair Kerk verified that the members had received a folder containing a series of questions that each workgroup was to consider during their breakout meetings. The workgroups can make recommendations to NACE but cannot speak for NACE. It is the duty of each member to seek a consensus from the full committee so that the recommendations reflect the input from all members. The workgroup meetings are also open to the public. The workgroups results will be presented to the full committee on May 7. The presentation will include a brief summary of the workgroups discussions and a presentation of a work plan. The work plan should include action items and timeframes to accomplish the plans.

The three workgroups are comprised of the following members:

Workgroup Participant
Guidelines Corey Thompson (discussion leader)
  Dan McCausland
  James Koskan
  George LaPorte
  Paul Fontana
  Jim Seymour (OSHA representative)
  Mike Maddux (OSHA representative)
Outreach and Assistance  
  Audrey Nelson (discussion leader)
  Richard Wyatt
  Barbara McCabe
  Lisa Brooks
  Carter Kerk
  Lee Anne Jillings (OSHA representative)
  Lida Orta-Anes (discussion leader)
  Roxanne Rivera
  Morton Kasdan
  Willis Goldsmith
  Edward Bernacki
  Tom Waters (NIOSH representative)

NACE convened into the workgroups for the remainder of the May 6 meeting.

May 7, 2003

The meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) was opened by Dr. Carter Kerk, Chair of NACE, at approximately 8:35 am on Wednesday, May 7, 2003. Approximately 10 members of the public were present for the opening of the meeting. NACE members Edward Bernacki and James Koskan were not present. 

The following NACE members were present:

  • Lisa M. Brooks, C.I.E.,
Health and Safety Program Manager for International Paper, Memphis, TN
  • Paul A. Fontana
Pesident/CEO, Work Rehabilitation, Inc., Lafayette, LA
  • Willis J. Goldsmith, Esq.
Jones Day, Washington, DC
  • Morton L. Kasdan, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Surgery, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
  • Carter J. Kerk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, SD
  • George P. LaPorte
Ergonomics Manager, NATLSCO Loss Control Services, Division of Kemper Insurance Companies, Lake Zurich, IL
  • Barbara McCabe
Program Manager, Operating Engineers National Hazmat Program, Operating Engineers, Beaver, WV
  • Audrey Nelson, Ph.D., RN
Center Director, VHA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, Suncoast Development Research; Research Professor, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
  • Lida Orta-Anes, Ph.D.
Graduate School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Roxanne Rivera
President and CEO, PMR Construction Services, Inc., Albuquerque, NM
  • W. Corey Thompson
National Safety and Health Specialist, American Postal Workers Union, Washington, DC
  • Richard Wyatt, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Aon Ergonomic Services, Huntsville, AL
Presentations and Discussion

Chair Kerk briefed the committee about how the meeting would proceed. Each workgroup would present a summary of the previous day’s discussion and resulting workplans. The committee would then be invited to discuss the presentations

George Henschel, Department of Labor’s legal counsel for NACE, introduced a copy of the presentation made by Scott Schneider as Exhibit 6, to be placed in the docket since it could not be attached to the transcript. Mr. Schneider would provide the committee with a copy of the video he showed at the previous day’s meeting.

Corey Thompson, who served as the discussion leader for the guidelines workgroup, provided an overview of the workplan prepared by the group. He addressed factors that would be used to determine which guidelines should be developed including injury/illness rates, populations impacted, trends, information available from willing stakeholders, successful program models, generic processes, and other task/industry specific guidelines based on the review of data. He suggested focusing on occupations that transcend industries, like materials handling, forklift/truck operations, truck driving, and equipment operation in choosing individual tasks. 

Mr. Thompson also indicated that data would be useful to demonstrate the value of ergonomics and business performance. Data could be obtained through alliances, such as with the auto industry and insurance and worker’s compensation companies. Successful groups would be identified and promoted through trade/industry journals and recognized by OSHA. Success would be measured by industry/injury numbers and rates and solicited through trade/industry journals. Issues include selection of industries and workers most impacted, task and industry guidelines, process vs. industry/task specific, communication of data, measuring success in implementing programs, and success of current guidelines. 

Paul A. Fontana stated that the group reviewed ergonomic data that was difficult to assess without explanation. Without the necessary data and information from industries, it was difficult to create appropriate ergonomic guidelines to determine the industries with the greatest ergonomic problems, possibly differentiating specific instances. For example, the data listed a very high number of lost work days for an industry, with little or no interpretation to understand the data correctly. Questions such as the following need to be answered:
  • Was the problem ergonomically related or was there a significant population within the industry that was affected?
  • Were days off a result of ergonomic injuries or did other factors apply?
Mr. Thompson stated that the only place to find information, short of surveying all companies, would be in trade/industry journals, and obtaining the kind of information that the workgroup was proposing would be very difficult. He welcomes any ideas/suggestions on how to obtain information about companies with stories of successful or unsuccessful ergonomic programs. Some companies may not want to report trade secrets of the success or failure of their ergonomic programs. 

Mr. Henschel commented that the ergonomics docket contains much information¾obtained when the original rule was issued¾about companies with existing ergonomic programs. Although it might be out of date, this information is useful to address the status of companies with ergonomic programs at that time. While most of the information could be obtained electronically through the Internet, some documents are still available in paper format.

Mr. Fontana suggested that OSHA solicit information from companies with regard to active ergonomic programs. For example, articles could be included in associated trade journals. OSHA may need to provide incentives and recognition, such as promoting companies in their associated trade journals, in order for them to come forward. 

Dr. Audrey Nelson asked the guidelines workgroup to consider evidence to support practical solutions to the problems as a factor in deciding what guidelines to develop, in addition to anecdotal information and the cost and dissemination of that information. This was also an issue for the nursing home guidelines. 

Dr. Lida Orta-Anes commented that the nursing home guidelines identified ergonomic-related issues in the nursing industry and provided ergonomic resolutions/concerns that were not previously identified. She suggested that this would be helpful for disseminating information about the best practices of an industry, which could be applicable to other industries. These guidelines also served to identify criteria and increase awareness about which industries have been conducting effective programs in the past. 

Mr. Thompson noted that the group discussed “task-specific” factors and commented that the group used the term “occupation-specific” to mean the same thing. He suggested that when industry-specific guidelines are developed, occupation-specific guidelines would naturally result. It is difficult to identify task- or occupation-specific guidelines without industry data. The group deferred to the full committee for further discussion.

Mr. Fontana said that the group suggested that material handling transcends industry. For example, material handling can be applied to nursing home and meatpacking plants. Truck drivers and forklift drivers can be found in meatpacking, labor, or construction industries. Computer keyboarding is another example of a task that transcends industry. The focus needs to be task-specific, not industry-specific.

Dr. Orta-Anes asked the workgroup if it looked at other standards that are currently under development, like those from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the National Safety Council (NSC), as well as Z365 (Musculoskeletal Disorder Standards). She suggested that ergonomic processes could be obtained from these developing standards and that the information could be used to develop specific industry-relevant guidelines. 

Dr. Morton L. Kasdan suggested that before these guidelines are adopted, the group needs to consider their validity. For example, the ANZI Z365 committee has only 2 experts from the 55 members who are licensed to diagnose and prescribe medical and surgical aspects of these problems; yet that committee is creating ergonomics guidelines. 

Mr. Fontana stated that the workgroups are referring to the generic guidelines for very general processes. In any company, administrators, managers, employees, and education must be involved¾not to spell out or define specifics of the guidelines, such as ‘what is a musculoskeletal disorder?’ but to provide a template based on needs scenarios of that company. It would be industry-specific, but several generic solutions could be applied. The company would see possible guideline solutions to apply based on cost/budget.

Mr. McCausland suggested that before OSHA writes ergonomic guidelines, the data should be reviewed to see if it even makes sense to develop industry-specific guidelines. The purpose of data would be to prioritize the selection of industries for industry specific guidelines. 

Roxanne Rivera suggested that the guidelines workgroup consider the fact that modification rates are not only affected by incident rates, but are also driven by economics. She stated that the group should consider company ‘wrap-up policies’ and suggested that the group contact NCCI and other similar organizations that are responsible for disseminating information on modification rates.

Mr. Fontana commented that companies are creating their own solutions to address ergonomic issues. WHe Hw hoda He HhR SHADFSAIDF;OASDIF;AODFHA;ODFhen specific industries are identified as the next group to have guidelines, they will come forward to report successful/unsuccessful stories. For example, the oil and gas industry currently has a committee to address ergonomic issues.

Mr. Goldsmith commented that industries that already have guidelines are trying to do the right thing and will use methods based on existing industry-specific guidelines, like those for the meatpacking industry, to reduce the compensation rate and the lost workday injury rate, among others. He suggested that it would be better to focus on the companies with no ergonomic programs or interests since these companies would probably never be addressed by any industry-specific guidelines. 

Mr. Fontana responded that committees in the drilling industry are composed of representatives from large companies that have a surplus of employees to attend meetings. Small companies do not have enough employees to attend these meetings, and therefore, information is not well-disseminated. It would help OSHA if the larger companies passed information to the smaller organizations regarding effective ergonomic programs. The legislation promoted by the Secretary of Labor and President Bush will force compliance with a generic ergonomic guideline if businesses don’t take the initiative to show that they are using current guidelines voluntarily. Small and large businesses need to make their efforts public to show that they are taking the voluntary guidelines seriously. The committee’s focus should not be on specific solutions, as this approach could be a big obstacle. For example, the nursing home guidelines show specific equipment, and that could lead the public to believe that using the pictured equipment could solve the applicable ergonomic problem indicated in the guideline. It could be an implied endorsement, especially when brand names are shown.

Dr. Nelson was recognized as the discussion leader for the outreach workgroup and introduced Dr. Wyatt who presented five key issues as the results, or action items, of the workgroup meeting:
  1. Identify industries and organizations that are willing to share ergonomic best practices and success stories. Would a forum be a plausible method to accomplish this? To address this issue, the NACE members should review the current OSHA outreach Web site, identify formats for sharing best practices and quick fixes, determine whether quick-fix topics can be added to the Web site and list industries and organizations willing to share best practices and model programs.
  2. Identify industries or organizations willing to assist with regional or national seminars and roundtables for the public. The workgroup should identify topics that OSHA would present to NACE.
  3. Identify industries or organizations willing to share outreach publications and materials. The workgroup would need to prioritize outreach methods and topics based on what would be most useful to reach audiences and investigate the possibility of using alliance program participants to serve as a clearinghouse.
  4. Improve OSHA’s Web site. The workgroup would review the Web site and recommend topics to present at the September NACE meeting.
  5. Identify ways to promote the business value of addressing ergonomic issues. The outreach workgroup would investigate adding a benefit category to existing Web site success stories and look at literature and Web sites to see how companies are defining the business value of ergonomic programs.
Lisa M. Brooks clarified that the workgroup tabled two additional issues because of time constraints. The additional topics are: 1) addressing ways to measure outreach successes, and 2) developing new outreach strategies.

Mr. Fontana commented that NACE also needed to contact trade networks/and journals to identify and implement ergonomic programs. There are obstacles to sharing guidelines that work because companies do not want to share their trade secrets or methods that work for them. Mr. Fontana suggested that the outreach group brainstorm about ways to overcome the competition factor between companies.

Dr. Richard Wyatt commented that the OSHA Web site cannot link to Web site addresses with “.com” suffixes. It can, however, link to “.edu” and “.org” suffixes. OSHA and the Alliance Program Participants could link to each others Web sites and other ergonomic resource addresses and make this information available to the public.

Mr. Fontana commented that Senator Clinton has pointed out that many people do not have access to the Internet. The guidelines workgroup has suggested that OSHA include its articles in trade/industry journals. Industries will typically go to trade journals, not the Internet, to read about their own efforts.

Barbara McCabe said that the Internet is a good tool, but not the end of the line for disseminating information. Small businesses do not have access to the Internet. The committee needs to consider other methods, such as printed materials, for disseminating information. She also stated that the outreach group discussed the immigrant population, workers with English as a second language, and small businesses when considering how to disseminate information.

Dr. Wyatt commented that the outreach group had similar objectives as the guidelines groups, except the outreach group would add the “quick-fix” to the guidelines group. A system would have to be developed to collect the data, with specific examples published quickly on common ergonomic risks and solutions. OSHA needs to have a common system or uniform format for gathering and disseminating information. The quick-fix format could be addressed by one page, with illustrations and simple bulleted points. Safety committees and workgroups would present the information at meetings and/or luncheons. He underscored that the committee needs to address how to organize this information to avoid later problems.

Ms. Rivera noted that small businesses fear the bureaucracy and excessive cost of implementing ergonomic guidelines and suggested that the committee demonstrate that bureaucracy and cost are not factors. Many small businesses already have ergonomic programs with other names, such as “safety.” They have not been educated to recognize ergonomic problems/issues/solutions. The outreach workgroup may also want to address these issues.

Ms. Brooks said that the outreach workgroup discussed the following: 1) collecting information and accessing success stories, also acknowledging the competitive factor and, 2) reaching audiences that have no programs or unsuccessful programs. The group discussed what kind of information could be used and whether or not it is too complicated for the affected businesses to implement.

Mr. Fontana agreed that bureaucracy is a real issue for small businesses. Many small businesses do not read the OSHA Web site and only read their industry-specific trade and professional journals. 

Dr. Nelson expressed concerns in targeting outreach efforts. The group discussed the need to reach not just risk managers and Chief Executive Officers, but also front line workers who are at risk and who might be able to provide solutions to ergonomic problems. 

Dr. Orta-Anes reported that the research group developed a working definition of the term “research gap” as “the inadequacy of research that exists or the absence of research in a certain topic area.” Dr. Orta-Anes said that the group also defined “limitations.” The group would not evaluate the quality of the research, but instead make recommendations with regard to relevant research. The group would also address developing activities that would enable them to get information about the quality of research and who has already utilized the research. Dr. Orta-Anes said that the group discussed adopting a set of definitions that the committee will use for consistency. The group also discussed whether or not there is an appropriate model of causation and addressed questions such as:
  • Is it accurate?
  • Are there psychosocial factors involved?
  • Is this relevant in the determination of a disorder?
The following ideas have not yet been resolved, but are addressed in the workplan developed by the workgroup:
  1. Provide a forum for ergonomics researchers with a university sponsorship.
  2. Future presentations to NACE given by qualified individuals.
  3. Solicit proposals for other workgroup research ideas. 
Mr. Goldsmith commented that people are on one side or the other with regards to ergonomic issues. The research workgroup suggested that people or groups present their views in a non-confrontational academic forum with moderators such as Richard Riegelman and Robert P. Hirsch. The committee could suggest some names of people who could be invited to participate. He also commented that the group was charged with identifying the gaps in research that a forum would address. He commented that NACE is not equipped to judge or evaluate all research needs or gaps. The forum would make published information available and NACE could focus on the quality of the research or gaps identified as a result of the proceedings.

Ms. Rivera reiterated that the workgroup was tasked with finding the research gaps, assessing the status of these gaps, and investigating how/if they are being filled. The group did not feel it was capable of the task and proposed the forum to bring together experts to address the gaps.

Dr. Orta-Anes stated that the forum will help to identify what has been accomplished recently and will allow for discussion of scientific research and information, but not necessarily produce a consensus with regard to information. The group needs to identify the expectations and goals for the forum.

Mr. Goldsmith commented that the forum would be an academic exercise, discussing research methodology and how conclusions were reached. University sponsorship would promote a non-political agenda.

Dr. Nelson commented that OSHA presented the wrong questions to the work groups. She said that the first recommendation from the workgroup was good, but then the follow-up questions should have addressed how to identify the barriers to implementing evidence into practice. Measuring the evidence for abatement strategies should have been a topic of discussion. NACE should address how to evaluate ergonomic programs to develop effective outcome measures. Dr. Nelson said that the questions return to the research and how it is being conducted.

Dr. Tom Waters, of NIOSH, commented that the discussion was relevant to address whether or not guidelines could be developed from science and if the research supports the development of guidelines. Researchers need to do a better job. Does the science substantiate the research? The forum might help facilitate the transition of research (science) to practice and reveal that a lot of issues still need to be discussed regarding best practices and data supporting the need to develop ergonomic guidelines.

Mr. Fontana commented that one gap in science is cause and effect and that the group needed to consider research questions like, what did you do and how did it work? The answers to these questions would be useful for outreach assistance and guidelines development. He stated that clinicians do not conduct research, but they do have the data. A group is needed to put the data into a usable format for publication. 

Dr. Waters said that the scientific approaches would still entail some level of design based on the expected outcome of the research. He suggested that NIOSH could get involved because it already has national surveys designed to get occupational information. OSHA’s VPP program, rather than the Alliances, may be more appropriate. 

Ms. Brooks commented that outcomes of common flaws could be an issue with current research, but it would be a good fit for future cooperative efforts to match companies willing to help with the research and small businesses that represent the real world. Research needs to be done on real world studies to benefit future cooperative program participants.

Chair Kerk reiterated to the committee that the research workgroup had proposed a forum no later than January 1, 2004. The symposium would focus on critical issues in research, per the NACE charter. The committee recommends that OSHA proceed with forum plans with consultation from NIOSH. The research group will continue to refine the forum idea. Chair Kerk proposed that the committee seek approval to move forward so the January 2004 deadline could be met. The group could continue to discuss the idea at the September 2003 meeting or the conference call in mid-July to make a final decision. 

Mr. Henschel outlined the two options that were available to the committee.
  1. General recommendation from NACE that OSHA move ahead with planning the forum, with assistance from NIOSH.
  2. The committee could allow the workgroups to continue working and then report to the full committee in September.
Chair Kerk reiterated that the committee recommends to OSHA a symposium at an academic level to discuss critical issues of research. NACE, NIOSH, and OSHA would offer advice concerning the forum, but a sponsoring university would organize the event. The speakers and panelists would make a brief presentation and answer questions. He stated that the committee was not in the position to select speakers, but names would be given to the planners of the forum. The selection of speakers would be beyond the control of NACE. Chair Kerk noted that there were no members among the committee opposed to the forum recommendation.

Addressing the committee, Assistant Secretary of OSHA John L. Henshaw reviewed the issues discussed during the 2-day meeting and stated that NACE perspectives and experiences regarding ergonomics were appreciated. The ideas put forth by the committee would help to flesh out ergonomic issues and encourage the committee to take advantage of strategies to help employers and employees reduce the risk. OSHA needs the committee’s help to address the issue of obtaining best practices and success stories from businesses. OSHA would need help to identify industries and organizations that were willing to conduct ergonomic seminars and roundtable discussions at the regional and national levels and to get the public involved in these conversations. Mr. Henshaw reported that the groups asked good questions about outreach efforts and interventions, and he was particularly interested in the questions about promoting the business value of ergonomics and communicating this idea to employers/business owners. He addressed the forum recommendation as a good idea and mentioned that it would be pursued with help from NIOSH and a sponsoring university. He commented that more issues needed to be identified to properly address the problems in ergonomic research. 

Dr. Orta-Anes informed the chair that a short-term goal for the next NACE meeting includes a presentation addressing the validity of some of the diagnoses of ergonomically related diseases. The first recommendation would be Dr. Hal Corwin, a neurologist, and the second would be executive summaries from the authors of two NAS reports on ergonomics. The committee reached a consensus that these two speakers would be recommended to OSHA. 

Chair Kerk said that the forum idea was recommended and approved by the committee and that the research workgroup would continue to work on the forum. Outreach guideline workgroups will also continue to redraft their plans. The dates for future meetings are as follows: 
Meeting #3 – September 23-24, 2003
Meeting #4 – January 27-28, 2004
Meeting #5 – May 11-12, 2004
Meeting #6 – September 21-22, 2004
The meeting was adjourned at 2:38 pm.