The first of three Department of Labor sponsored forums concerning ergonomics did not get off without a hitch. On Monday, July 16, three protestors were removed by security. The protestors shouted, “big business loves the ergonomics forum sham.’ One was wearing a mask of President George W. Bush. Union members also protested outside the forums.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao commented, “We can choose to do one of two things starting today. We can play politics or we can protect workers. We can engage in sideshows or we can pursue safety.’
Experts and business representatives including Dr. Alf Nachemson, a back pain expert, and Yellow Corp., a trucking company, state that there is not enough scientific evidence to support even voluntary ergonomic guidelines. At the same time, supporters like the Alliance of American Insurers is proposing a mix of public policy approaches to address ergonomics concerns.
According to written testimony submitted by the Alliance of American Insurers, “Insurers are keenly interested in the approach the federal government takes to address musculoskeletal disorders because we, as an industry, have more than nine decades of experience in encouraging employers to set up meaningful safety programs.”
After today’s testimony, the forums will move on to Chicago, IL, and Stanford, CA.