Killing Ergonomics Standard Will Hurt Women Workers

Democratic senators held a news conference Tuesday to highlight the importance\r\nof the ergonomics standard for women workers.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and others held a news conference Tuesday to highlight the importance of the ergonomics standard for women workers.

Women account for 64 percent of serious repetitive motion injuries overall.Women workers suffer 71 percent of serious carpal tunnel syndrome injuries and 57 percent of serious tendonitis injuries.

OSHA''s ergonomics standard was repealed yesterday by the Senate through the Congressional Review Act and now moves for a vote in the House which is expected as early as today.

Karen Nussbaum, director of the AFL-CIO''s Working Women''s Department released a fact sheet on why women workers will be hurt by the repeal of OSHA''s ergonomics standard.

"The new standard was issued after 10 years of review, public hearings and organizing to protect workers who suffer serious disabling and costly injuries," said Nussbaum. "Ergonomic injuries have become the nation''s biggest health and safety problem, affecting workers ranging from nursing home workers to reporters to office clerks to grocery workers and drivers ... and it is clear these injuries disproportionately affect women."

Here are some facts about women and ergonomic injuries:

  • 57 percent of the lost-worktime tendonitis injuries occur among women workers.
  • In 1998, more than 166,471 women workers suffered an injury due to overexertion that resulted in time away from work.
  • Sprains/strains, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis together account for more than half of all lost-worktime injuries and illnesses among women.

According to AFL-CIO, a number of occupations that are relatively low wage and employ large numbers of women are particularly hard hit by musculoskeletal disorders.

The top 10 jobs with the most musculoskeletal disorder for women are: nursing aides, registered nurses, assemblers, cashiers, maids, machine operators, laborers, licensed practical nurses, material handlers and sales workers.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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