Ergonomics Remains Controversial Issue -- Carpal Tunnel Link and Business Impact Disputed in Safety.BLR.com Poll

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A majority of safety professionals view computer use as a causal factor in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and that an ergonomics standard would have little impact on economic activity. These opinions run counter to a recent Harvard Medical School study and the opposition of many in business to an ergonomics standard from OSHA.

When it comes to controversy in the safety profession, ergonomics -- the science of fitting the job to the worker doing that job -- always tops the list. According to two recent polls conducted by Safety.BLR.com, “Making Safety Training and Compliance Easier,” safety managers seem to be at odds with both a recent medical study and the view of many in business who have fought OSHA’s proposed ergonomics standard. Poll results show that a majority of safety pros view computer use as a causal factor in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and that an ergonomics standard would have little impact on economic activity.

The first poll asked: “Do you believe computer use causes carpal tunnel syndrome?” Fully 55 percent of the 474 respondents responded in the affirmative, that they believe there to be a causal link between CTS incidence and computer use.

These results came after the release of a Harvard Medical School paper disputing the linking of computer use and CTS. The researchers asserted that not only was there no link, but that computer use up to 7 hours a day has no effect on risk for developing CTS. Instead, risk factors may include heredity, body weight, fracture, or even pregnancy.

The second poll asked: “What effect would an ergonomics standard have on the economy?” Sixty-one percent of the 265 respondents said that its effect would only be slightly positive, slightly negative, or have no effect. This poll was conducted after the Michigan Senate passed legislation blocking regulations on workplace ergonomics.

“Viewed as a whole, the results seem to show that ergonomics remains an important issue for safety managers,” said Steve Quilliam, editor of Safety.BLR.com. “They show that folks are convinced of the seriousness of carpal tunnel as an ergonomics hazard and that regulations to protect workers are necessary and would have a negligible economic effect.”

To help control ergonomics hazards in the workplace, the safety editors at Safety.BLR.com have developed a free download, “Musculoskeletal Disorder Prevention Checklist.” Download it here: http://www.blr.com/81001600/PRS86

About BLR

Old Saybrook, Conn.-based BLR produces plain-English compliance and training resources for HR, safety, and environmental managers. For more information, call 800-727-5257 or visit http://www.blr.com.

Contact:

Safety.BLR.com Managing Editor

Steve Quilliam

860-510-0100, x2148

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