From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Medical Association Endorses Ergonomic Programs for Addressing Contemporary Economic Issues

“The workforce is the engine that drives the economy” according to a Guidance Statement issued by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s Special Committee on Health, Productivity, and Disability Management.  If worker health and productivity are made a priority through prevention programs, fiscal soundness in the economy, entitlement programs, and the health care system will be promoted.

Upon a review of the literature, the white paper identified several key summary research findings including:
• Workplace disability related to musculoskeletal conditions can be significantly reduced through appropriate treatment, worksite based case management, and worksite modification/follow-up.
• Workplace disability prevention and return-to-work opportunity are enhanced by communicating with the worker and the “fit” between the job and the worker.

By emphasizing prevention programs, it was felt that workers’ health would improve and optimize the global competitiveness of the United States.  Activities defined as prevention programs included:      
1) Safety engineering
2) Hazard recognition
3) Job ergonomics and organizational design
4) Nutrition
5) Prenatal care
6) Immunizations and other wellness services
7) Health promotion
8) Health education
9) Lifestyle management

The Bottom Line – How This Applies To Ergonomists

During these pressing economic times, this American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) position paper provides good arguments to explain how ergonomic programs are vital to the financial well being of a company and the nation.  Further, by being proactive and containing workplace disability, ergonomic programs are shown to be helpful at containing health care costs and Social Security/Medicare burdens. 

Other Key Points
ACOEM issued four critical fundamental principles relative to containing current economic and health care challenges:
• “Keeping the Workforce Healthy and Productive is Essential to Keeping the Economy Strong.”
• “Public Investment in ‘Better Health’ as well as ‘Better Health Care’ Should Advance Beneficial Societal Outcomes, Most Particularly Workforce Health and Productivity.”
• “The Workforce will Become Healthier and More Productive Through Prioritized Investment in Evidence-based Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention Strategies.”
• “These Strategies will Succeed Only if Spending on Prevention is Considered a Priority Rather than Discretionary and Only if Incentives are Realigned.”

This position paper can be acquired at:;jsessionid=Jj2DC6cJX7GS8rnT3mVG0FnnSVdD9QV4jJnZSwtg12g6Pxpz1xLL!-1429555639!181195629!8091!-1

Article Title: Healthy Workforce/Healthy Economy: The Role of Health, Productivity, and Disability Management in Addressing the Nation’s Health Care Crisis

Publication: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 51 (1), 114-119, 2009

Authors: Special Committee on Health, Productivity, and Disability Management; American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2009-02-25.