From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

ANA Calls for a New Ergonomics Standard

Press Release

Washington, DC — At a hearing on ergonomics safety in the workplace,
American Nurses Association (ANA) representatives Maggie Flanagan, RN,
Ann Converso, RN, and Roslyn Muhammad, RN, today called for immediate
action by the Department of Labor to issue a new ergonomics standard. The
forum took place in Chicago and is one of three national forums scheduled by the
Department of Labor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that
nearly half of all workers in the health services industry, which includes RNs, will
experience at least one work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) during
their working lives. Studies of back-related worker’s compensation claims reveal
that nursing personnel have one of the highest claim rates of any occupation or

Speaking on behalf of the ANA and her constituent member association, the
Alaska Nurses Association, Flanagan told how she experienced serious back,
neck and shoulder injuries that prohibited her from working for eight months.
“Work shouldn’t hurt,” stated Flanagan during the forum. “American workers
deserve workplaces where people are considered more ‘valuable’ than profits.”

The ANA has long supported an ergonomics standard and was shocked earlier
this year when Congress voted to rescind the final OSHA ergonomics rule. Since
March 2001, ANA has waited for the Department of Labor to fulfill its promise
of pursuing a comprehensive approach to ergonomics so nurses and other health
care workers will be protected.

“The benefits of the ergonomic standard are logical, documented and proven,”
said ANA President Mary Foley, MS, RN. “With proper enforcement, ANA
believes the ergonomic standard will not only prevent back injuries and
musculoskeletal disorders, but will also improve patient care.”

“Additionally,” said Foley, “in the face of a nursing shortage that is fast reaching
crisis proportions, injuries are a major contributing factor to nurses opting to
leave the profession. An ergonomics standard is badly needed not only to reduce
the high number of disabling back injuries and MSDs experienced by nurses, but
also to stem a mass exodus of nurses from direct care roles, which has resulted in
part from a lack of workplace safety protections.”

ANA representatives Ann Converso and Rosyln Muhammad further echoed the
need for a strong OSHA standard in their statements at the forum. Muhammad, a
member of the Illinois Nurses Association, urged the Department of Labor to use
the power in its hands to protect nurses and other workers. “Without a federal
mandate in the form of an OSHA ergonomics standard, nurses cannot be
assured of protection from ergonomic hazards in the workplace,” stated
Converso, a nurse for 25 years and vice-chair of ANA’s labor arm, United
American Nurses. “We need the Department of Labor to take action to assure
current and prospective nurses that they should not have to fear a disabling
musculoskeletal disorder if they choose to work on the frontlines of health care.”

The American Nurses Association is the only full-service professional organization
representing the nation’s 2.7 million Registered Nurses through its constituent member
state nurses associations. The ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high
standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in
the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the
Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.