I n 1994, the University of Maryland conducted a study that illustrates how prevalent ergonomic issues are, and how companies tend to address ergonomic issues in a reactive way and not a preventative way. Even though it is 15 years old, the stats show that when we wait to address issues, both the employer and employee stand to suffer.
According to OSHA, finding solutions to the problems posed by ergonomics hazard may be the most significant workplace safety and health issue of the 1990’s. Dr. J. Donald Miller, retired Director of NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), is quoted as saying, “that by any epidemiological criteria, occupational musculoskeletal injures represent a pandemic problem in the United States with gigantic effects on the quality of millions of peoples’ lives every year.”
Repetitive Motion Illness or Cumulative Trauma Disorders represent almost 1/2 of all occupational illnesses reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ergonomic disorders including CTS, various tendon disorders and lower back injuries, are the most rapidly growing category of OSHA recordable injuries and illnesses.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that of all occupational illnesses, musculoskeletal disorders rose from 52% in 1989 to 56% in 1991 and are continuing to increase. Though cost estimates vary greatly, it is believed that medical and workers’ compensation costs of these disorders are estimated to exceed $100 billion annually.
1% of the population has been estimated to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Workplace illnesses associated with repeated trauma, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, accounted for slightly more than 60% of the new cases reported in 1991.
Back injures alone account for more than 1/3 of all workers’ compensation costs.
For upper body cumulative trauma, the average cost per case is estimated at $15,400
Source: University of Maryland, Environmental Safety, 1994