From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

HFES Urges Washington I-841 Voters to Consider Science Basis of Ergonomics

Editor’s Note: The following is a statement released today by The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) urges voters in the state of Washington to consider the sound science behind ergonomics when they vote on Initiative 841.

HFES is the largest organization of human factors/ergonomics scientists, engineers, and practitioners, representing 4800 members in the United States and from countries around the world. HFES supports the development and application of scientific and engineering principles that help to prevent and protect workers from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), as well as those that enhance workers’ comfort, safety, and productivity.

HFES is concerned about the prevalence of MSDs in the workplace. It is the HFES position that there are well-established principles and a solid foundation of practice that demonstrate the efficacy of ergonomics interventions to prevent MSDs. This knowledge base, developed over the past 60 years, provides more than sufficient understanding to enable the occurrence of MSD problems in the workplace to be addressed effectively. This knowledge base is presented in numerous textbooks and refereed journal articles representing efforts of the engineering, medical, and public health schools of the nation’s most prestigious universities as well as the laboratories of many of the nation’s major companies. Application of this knowledge is accepted and common practice.

HFES believes there is clear scientific evidence of associations between work-related MSDs and workplace risk factors and that ergonomics programs and specific ergonomics interventions can reduce the occurrence of MSDs. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences and the General Accounting office have substantiated that ergonomics programs in industry result in fewer MSD-related injuries. This leads to an improved bottom line for companies that incorporate sound ergonomics programs due to lowered disability, workers compensation, and liability claims. HFES supports continuing investigation into the most effective ways to implement ergonomics programs in industry but believes that existing knowledge substantiates both the value and efficacy of such programs in maintaining and improving worker health, safety, comfort, and productivity.

For additional information, please contact Lynn Strother, CAE, Executive Director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society at


Editor’s Note: For more information on Washington State’s I-841 voter initiative, please see Ergoweb Inc.’s three-part series, “Ergonomics Battle Heats Up”, “Saying No to Ergonomics Could Be a Mouthful” and “Will Ergonomics Really Cost Jobs?”, previously published in Ergonomics Today.