Public forums on ergonomics began yesterday in the wake of a backlash against the Bush Administration and the U.S. Senate’s March decision to overturn the nation’s first federal ergonomics standard. The standard would have mandated employers to redesign workplaces and compensate employees suffering from repetitive motion injuries. Annually, over 600,000 US workers suffer from repetitive strain and back injuries incurred while working; women make up over 64 percent of these workers.
More than 100 of these workers were denied the opportunity to testify at the hearings, despite the fact that the witness list gives business interests a 2-to-1 advantage. The Labor Department also rejected requests from the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Occupational Therapy Association, and the American Public Health Association to testify.