Insurers Say Study Supports Need for More ErgonomicsResearch

June 20, 2001
Citing recently published Mayo Clinic findings that heavy keyboard use does not increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, the Alliance of American Insurers pointed to the need for greater ergonomics research.

Citing recently published Mayo Clinic findings that heavy keyboard use does not increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, the Alliance of American Insurers (AAI) pointed to the need for greater study of causation in musculoskeletal disorders.

"This is another example of why we cannot rely on guesses and intuition in creating ergonomic regulations -- or any other kind for that matter," said Kenneth Schloman, counsel for AAI. "Hard science is needed. In this instance, the Mayo Clinic did not find the connection between keyboard use and carpal tunnel as they expected. There are many similar examples from many occupations. This is why we support more research and individualized approaches to ergonomics rules that take into account variations in the workplace."

Schloman continued: "Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic study is right in line with the National Academy of Science report in that, regarding causality, it raises more questions than it answers."

Schloman noted that the NAS study often referenced the complex nature of the connection between these disorders and the workplace.

"The scientific community''s findings do not suggest one simple prescriptive remedy," said Schloman. "This is not to suggest that conditions do not exist or that individuals are not impacted by musculoskeletal disorders. The issue is one of causation."

Causation is one of the fundamental questions of ergonomics that the Department of Labor plans to examine in three public forums next month. The meetings will take place July 16 in the District of Columbia, July 20 in Chicago and July 24 in California.

Legislation is still pending in the Senate that would require OSHA to re-issue another ergonomics rule within two years, to go into effect within 90 days of promulgation.

The bill specifies areas the rule should cover and specifically prohibits any interference with state workers'' compensation laws.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, said that the department has not yet decided whether to issue a new rule or offer guidelines and assistance.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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