Kicking off the inaugural meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) on January 22 by challenging committee members to help OSHA meet its “bottom line” on ergonomics, OSHA administrator John Henshaw reminded the hand-picked group of industry professionals that their advice would contribute to OSHA’s success in combating musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injuries in the workplace.
“I challenge each of you on the committee … and I ask for your personal commitment …Help us achieve our bottom line [of] reducing workplace musculoskeletal injuries,” said Henshaw in a written transcript of his speech to the NACE.
Stressing the importance of concentrating on guidelines, outreach, assistance, and continuing research, Henshaw reaffirmed the approach OSHA expected the committee to take in solving broad workplace ergonomics issues.
“A regulatory approach to addressing ergonomics is not on OSHA’s agenda, so that should not be part of the committee’s discussions,” Henshaw told the group. “In addition, while you will be given a briefing today on the enforcement activities underway, enforcement per se will not be a part of you [sic] deliberations. Enforcement is based upon developed law and case law and is beyond the scope of this committee.”
“We are not expecting the advisory committee to conduct research,” Henshaw continued. “Our broad goal for the committee is that your work should help us identify how or what might it take to reduce the science to practice. Or identify areas where we need more research to bridge the gap between the theoretical to the practical. Help us identify strategies that a plant manager, a front-line supervisor, a small business can readily adopt and use right now to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Help us identify ways to sell value of [sic] these strategies so we can help workers immediately.”
Henshaw also encouraged the group to develop unique and groundbreaking solutions to driving down workplace MSDs. “Innovation is key in our push to drive down musculoskeletal disorders. Practical applications are how we can make innovative approaches work for us.”
The NACE is comprised of 15 members from industry, academia, labor, legal and the medical professions and was created with the goal of discussing and planning courses of action for working with OSHA to combat workplace MSDs. The committee members were appointed by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao in late 2002 to serve on the committee throughout its two-year charter.