This document was downloaded and archived from on May 30, 2001.

"This document was published prior to the publication of OSHA's final rule on Ergonomics Program (29 CFR 1910.900, November 14, 2000), and therefore does not necessarily address or reflect the provisions set forth in the final standard."

Trade News Release
Wednesday, July 21, 1999
CONTACT: Susan Hall Fleming
PHONE: (202) 693-1999

In Speech to National Association of Manufacturers


Play a productive, not a destructive, role in the ergonomics standard-setting process, OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress today told the National Association of Manufacturers.

Jeffress assured NAM members that OSHA regulations need not be a win-lose proposition. They can be win-win, benefitting both business and workers, because productivity and profits go up as injuries go down, Jeffress said.

He stressed the importance of a systematic approach to occupational safety and health, noting that only 30 percent of employers have established safety and health programs and less than half of U.S. workers in most industries are covered by these programs.

Jeffress noted the irony of NAM's opposition to a rule OSHA is developing that would require employers to set up safety and health programs. "Many of your member companies have demonstrated the value of safety and health programs. I challenge you as an organization to change your tune....Let's take what the best of American business is doing and spread it to the rest of business."

Likewise, the OSHA director called on NAM to "adopt a more reasonable position on ergonomics....You put the principles into practice but preach against the proposed regulation. In fact, you don't even want a proposal to reach a public forum for debate."

Pointing out that "More than one-third of all serious occupational injuries and illnesses stem from overexertion or repetition," Jeffress said these problems hurt more than "600,000 workers each year." Musculoskeletal disorders "cost businesses $15 to $20 billion annually in workers' comp costs alone," he said.

Medical and scientific organizations supporting OSHA's plan to move forward with an ergonomics standard, according to Jeffress, include the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

Jeffress concluded by declaring his willingness to search for common ground with NAM to develop coordinated approaches to improving workplace safety and health.

The news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at The full text of the speech as prepared for delivery is also available on the website. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-1999.

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