Opinion: Life Beyond the OSHA Ergonomics Standard

Keywords Opinion: Life Beyond the OSHA Ergonomics Standard HFES Bulletin OSHA Ergonomics
Standards groups

Although ergonomics is now a household word, it is commonly
misunderstood. The OSHA focus has equated ergonomics
with cumulative trauma disorders and limited a systems-oriented
approach, without which there is only partial success. This provides
our first important opportunity: namely, to revise the popular
understanding of ergonomics from being merely sore wrists
to incorporating design for ease of use and effective performance.
This path is already being paved by the publicity on popular
issues such as patient safety and ballot design, with which our
profession is greatly involved.

A second opportunity is to continue demonstrating that good
ergonomics is good economics. The primary criticism of the
Ergonomics Program Standard was its high cost of compliance.
In recent years, representatives from industries that follow ergonomics
processes and incorporate ergonomics into their product
designs have publicly admitted that they are quiet about their
advocacy because it gives them a competitive edge by enhancing
productivity and improving the quality of their products.

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