From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics Reaches Hot Status in November’s Elections

An ergonomics battle is playing out on the airwaves in Arkansas as radio ads from the National Coalition on Ergonomics (NCE) try to persuade voters to ignore the television ads being run in the state by the AFL-CIO, all in the name of ergonomics and votes.

The AFL-CIO television spots, reported the Dayton Business Journal, “blasted Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson’s vote to repeal a regulation that would have required businesses to establish programs to reduce musculoskeletal injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.” The NCE ads tell voters that “Senator Tim Hutchinson . . . fought . . . against a risky scheme that would have cost Arkansas thousands of jobs and threatened already-struggling small businesses.” Both ads are referring to OSHA’s ergonomics regulations, and the Arkansas senator’s vote to repeal them.

While voter apathy runs rampant throughout the United States in almost any given election today, some experts, including CNN Senior Political Analyst, William Schnieder, believe that apathy might be the go-ahead that business groups, like the NCE, and labor organization, like the AFL-CIO, need to secure their picks in next Tuesday’s elections.

According to an article in the Dayton Business Journal paraphrasing Schneider, “Labor unions . . . not only have poured millions of dollars into a well-organized get-out-the-vote effort this year, they also have emotion on their side. President Bush’s intervention in the West Coast dockworkers’ labor dispute angered many union members and could generate a large labor turnout [on election day].”

Across the nation, incumbent congressional candidates are touting the repeal of OSHA’s ergonomics regulations as positives in their campaigns. In states like Washington, where an existing state ergonomics rule is ruffling some big business feathers, business groups including the National Federation of Independent Business, are backing mostly Republican party candidates. And some businesses, like Timken Co., a ball-bearing manufacturer, are going beyond merely encouraging their employees to vote. The company has sent letters to 11,100 employees informing them of which candidates the company is supporting and why. One of the issues included in the correspondence is lessening workplace ergonomics regulations.

Sources: Denver Post, Dayton Business Journal, Seattle Post-Intelligencer