Fatigue was once considered a sign of a hard day's work. Now occupational health experts at OSHA view excessive physical fatigue, muscle aches and pains and discomfort as possible indications of musculoskeletal problems resulting from repetitive stress injuries (RSIs). Over the past 15 years, disorders associated with repeated stress injuries have become the leading cause of lost-time injuries. As a result OSHA will propose special ergonomics rules that may force employers to prevent RSIs.
Because many industries were so adamantly opposed to OSHA's Draft Proposed Ergonomics Protection Standard in March 1995, Congress postponed any issuance of a proposed final standard before Sept. 30, 1998. Research indicating that repetitive stress injuries are one of the fastest-growing workplace injuries is driving OSHA's efforts to seek a consensus between labor and management.
While concerned about the health of their workforce, employers also are concerned about the cost of unnecessary regulations. By OSHA's original proposal, producers with employees exposed to certain risk factors or employers who have experienced claims from employees with work-related musculoskeletal disorders, would be required to modify their workplace or procedures to eliminate the risk.
Whether or not these same risk factors are included in the proposed new ergonomics standard, producers should take the first prevention step by examining their workplaces for obvious tasks that could lead to repetitive stress injuries.
Keywords: ergonomic, RSI