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OSHA Trade Release
Nov. 19, 2004
Contact: Bill Wright
Phone: (202) 693-1999

National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics Offers Recommendations to OSHA

WASHINGTON -- Identification of research gaps, improving ergonomics success story collections and distribution processes, and ensuring that ergonomics is part of an overall safety and health program are some of the recommendations made by the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) during its final meeting November 17 in Washington.

The committee's work groups -- guidelines, research, and outreach and assistance -- proposed their final recommendations to the full committee for further presentation to OSHA. The two-day meeting culminated a process begun two years ago when NACE was chartered by the Secretary of Labor to provide advice and recommendations to help OSHA accelerate the decline of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace.

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw thanked the committee members for their dedication and hard work over the past two years, saying their service has "made a significant contribution that will result in fewer work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in U.S. workplaces."

Said Henshaw: "Over the past two years, you've helped us move forward in addressing ergonomics in America's workplaces. And while the committee's charter is expiring, ergonomics remains an important issue to the agency. We still have much to learn about ergonomics and we still have the challenge of putting what we already know into practice. You've helped us identify some strategies for the future and we are deeply grateful."

One of those strategies includes the possibility of a formal presentation at a future NIOSH-sponsored National Occupational Research Agenda meeting citing the eight specific research gaps identified by the committee.

Adding to previous recommendations regarding outreach and assistance, NACE suggested that OSHA increase the number, quality and use of ergonomic success stories posted on the agency's website and offered a success story template to facilitate the process.

During previous meetings, the 15-member committee urged OSHA to work through its partnership and Alliance programs to expand information on best practices and to hold a research symposium (which was accomplished last January). And, in a January 2004 meeting, NACE identified 16 additional industries for the agency to consider for future ergonomics guidelines.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

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NOTE: A fact sheet detailing NACE's final recommendations and results is attached to this press release.

National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE)
Recommendations from the
November 17, 2004 meeting

The National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) reached consensus on the following recommendations presented to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with the intent that they will be useful to guide the agency throughout its comprehensive approach to reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace.

  • The pursuit of a single definition of MSDs has not reached consensus. Accordingly, OSHA should continue the development of guidelines independent of any final definition of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).
  • Ergonomics should be included in an overall comprehensive occupational safety and health programs, and should be integrated into business processes in the same way as Job Safety Analysis, Personal Protective Equipment hazard assessments, process hazard analysis, and similar occupational safety and health tools.
  • MSDs are a consequence of exposures to risk factors of a multi-factorial nature. While the exact cause of a specific MSD may not be known, and the precise effectiveness of an intervention may not be predictable, the objective of ergonomics is to reduce, to a practical minimum, the demands (e.g., physiological, cognitive, behavioral) of doing the work by controlling these exposures. To this end, a number of tools and guidelines may be useful.
  • Recognize that there are non-occupational components (e.g., general health, non-work, leisure, play, and physical daily living activities) that also contribute to the development and occurrence of MSDs. To reach outside the work arena, these components are best addressed by educating the workforce concerning such non-work hazards.
  • Ergonomics is a process that can be beneficially used to address job and workplace design - the human interface with the work system.
  • More research is needed to examine the validity of techniques used to establish a diagnosis of MSDs.
  • More research is needed to examine the role of psychosocial factors that contribute to or impact the development of MSDs.
  • Studies are needed to develop additional animal models in which the effects of physical loading on living tissues can be studied in a controlled manner.
  • Additional studies are needed to
    • Examine the validity and reliability of existing exposure assessment methods
    • Develop additional assessment methods
  • Additional studies are needed to determine the economic impact to organizations of what are commonly described as ergonomic interventions.
  • More studies are needed addressing the multifactorial causes of MSDs, such as psychosocial, physical, occupational, and non-occupational factors, and their interactions.
  • Additional studies are needed to describe the natural history of diseases or injuries, commonly known as MSDs.
  • Studies are needed regarding factors in workers' compensation systems and other statutory payment mechanisms on findings of causation, diagnosis, the duration of the disability, and other outcomes related to what are commonly known as MSDs.
Outreach & Assistance
  • Improve Processes for Collecting and Presenting Success Stories
    • Form with Descriptions of Input Fields.
    • Examples of Well-Written Success Stories
    • Disclaimers
    • Key Word Search Capabilities

This news release text is on the Internet at Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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