Ergonomics is a subject that hasn't received much attention in the manufacturing community lately. But, that may change under president-elect Barack Obama’s new administration.
The morning after the historic presidential election, I was putting the finishing touches on a feature article for the December issue of ASSEMBLY that examines the role of ergonomics in workstation design. Ergonomics is a subject that we haven’t covered much recently, but I predict that may be about to change under Barack Obama’s new administration.
The last time the manufacturing community heard much about ergonomics was earlier this decade. In November 2000, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, Washington, DC) proposed a sweeping ergonomics proposal. However, the controversial Clinton administration ergonomics rule was repealed in Congress shortly after George Bush became president in early 2001. In April 2002, OSHA unveiled a revised ergonomics plan that focused on developing guidelines for reducing repetitive-stress-related injuries.
I believe we’ll soon see a renewed emphasis on ergonomics on the plant floor. In the past, president-elect Obama has promised to make the controversial topic a high priority in his administration.
On the campaign trail last summer, Obama was quoted as saying, “We’re going to have a government that makes sure workers aren’t put at unnecessary risk.” And, during his 2004 U.S. Senate election campaign, Obama expressed support for reviving the OSHA ergonomics standard and said he would work to require employers to keep records of repetitive stress disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
While the new president will have quite a few more pressing issues to deal with other than ergonomics, it will be interesting to see what unfolds in the months ahead. I predict that ergobamanomics is a term that manufacturers will be hearing more about in the years ahead.