From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Prominent Ergonomics Experts Boycott OSHA Symposium

Eleven ergonomists, most of whom worked on at least one comprehensive ergonomics report for the federal government since 1997, have sent a written statement to NACE that they’re boycotting this week’s ergonomics symposium on the grounds that the Bush administration is distorting science for its own political benefit.

NACE, the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics, a committee created by OSHA to help guide the future of federal involvement in ergonomics, is slated to hold its public symposium, titled “Musculoskeletal and Neurovascular Disorders: The State of Research Regarding Workplace Etiology and Prevention,” on Tuesday, January 27 in Washington D.C. The boycotting ergonomists, including representatives from academia and individual state safety and health agencies, believe that the symposium will do little more than rehash research that is already well-accepted, a situation that one boycotter believes could delay any change in federally-mandated ergonomics, and in turn financially benefit big business.

“If enough people get up and say, ‘We need to know more, we need to know more,’ we’ll end up with another comprehensive review. It’s called paralysis by analysis,” University of Michigan industrial engineer Don Chaffin, one of the 11 boycotters, told the Baltimore Sun.

The Bush administration has come under fire in the past regarding its dealings with the scientific community, with accusations that include censorship of scientific reports that don’t agree with the administration’s policies, obstructing research that could result in new regulations, and for filling advisory committees, including NACE, with researchers who favor an industry position.

In addition, boycotters noted that the symposium was more of a political show than a scientific meeting, that science and research would be used by OSHA in a “cynical” manner, and that OSHA could spin the information discussed at the symposium in a way that would blur the link between work and MSDs, thereby halting any potential future federal action on ergonomics.

Source: Baltimore Sun