OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
A new four-pronged effort to address repetitive stress injuries will be managed within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by Nancy C. Adams, a 20-year agency veteran who is assuming the role of ergonomics coordinator.
In December, then Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich announced that OSHA would employ a variety of strategies to combat repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), which today account for one of every three dollars in employer workers' compensation costs. OSHA's new approach includes educational activities, research, enforcement and rulemaking. Adams will oversee and coordinate these functions.
"Nancy Adams will bring her extensive field background, her understanding of OSHA's enforcement program and her headquarters experience to her new post and draw together the various strands of OSHA's multi-faceted plan to help employers prevent RSIs," said Gregory R. Watchman, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
Ergonomics involves fitting the job to the worker. When there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the worker, repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) can result. RSIs are one of the fastest growing workplace injuries, costing employers more than $20 billion for 2.73 million workers' compensation claims in 1993.
Adams will draw on the lessons the agency learned at the OSHA/NIOSH joint conference on ergonomics held last month in Chicago. More than 1,000 participants heard about successful ergonomics programs that saved employers money but were implemented primarily because employers believed that preventing RSIs was the "right thing to do."
Speakers from manufacturing, construction, warehousing and service industries spoke on the need for management commitment and employee involvement in designing effective programs. They also told participants that many of the "fixes" for ergonomic problems were simple and cheap, and most were suggested by employees and implemented by maintenance staff.
Adams began her career in OSHA's Albany area office in 1975, moving on to Washington, D.C., then Boston and then back to Washington. She joined the New York regional office in 1985, served as Long Island area director for ten years and then moved back to the New York regional office as deputy regional administrator in 1995.
A 1973 graduate of Millersville State College in Millersville, Pa., she earned her Master of Science degree in Environmental and Occupational Health from Hunter College in New York in 1995. Adams was named 1994 Safety Professional of the Year by the Long Island chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers.
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