OSHA Effective Ergonomics: Strategy for Success

A Four-Pronged Comprehensive Approach

In April 2002, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao unveiled a comprehensive approach to ergonomics designed to quickly and effectively address musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace. OSHA developed a four-pronged ergonomics strategy to meet this goal through a combination of industry-specific and task-specific guidelines, outreach, enforcement, and research.

Since the ergonomics strategy was announced, OSHA has made significant progress in each of the four areas of emphasis to reduce ergonomic injuries. Some highlights of OSHA’s accomplishments are summarized below.


• OSHA’s first ergonomic guidelines were released on March 13, 2003, and covered the nursing home industry; the guidelines followed public comment and a stakeholder meeting on the draft guidelines.

• OSHA published final Ergonomic Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores on May 28, 2004 following public comment and a stakeholder meeting on draft guidelines. Draft ergonomic guidelines for the poultry were issued for public comment on June 4, 2003.

• OSHA announced in the spring of 2003 that it will develop ergonomic guidelines for shipyards.

• OSHA is encouraging other industries to develop ergonomic guidelines to meet their specific needs. For example, the State of North Carolina and the American Furniture Manufacturers Association worked together to develop ergonomic guidelines for the furniture manufacturing industry.

• As part of their alliances with OSHA, several printing industry associations and the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc., are developing ergonomic guidelines for their respective industries.


• OSHA has issued 14 General Duty Clause violations for ergonomic hazards with more cases under evaluation for citation.

• OSHA conducted a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for the nursing home industry from July 2002 through September 30, 2003. The agency conducted 968 inspections under this NEP.

• OSHA has conducted 745 ergonomics inspections in industries other than nursing homes (from January 1, 2002 through May 31, 2004).

• A cross-cutting OSHA ergonomics response team evaluates and screens all inspection cases prior to issuing a citation.

• OSHA sent 303 hazard alert letters to notify employers of ergonomic problems in their facilities. Follow-up inspections at a sample of these facilities will be scheduled to evaluate the progress of response to the hazard alert letters.

• Eleven Regional Emphasis Programs and five Local Emphasis Programs are underway across the country, focusing on ergonomic hazards in the meatpacking, hospital, auto parts, and warehousing industries.

• OSHA named ergonomic coordinators for each of its 10 regional offices to assist staff, employers, employees, and other stakeholders with ergonomic issues.

• OSHA currently has six ergonomists throughout the country—in regional offices, the national office, an area office, the OSHA Training Institute and the Salt Lake Technical Center.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Updated on: 12/10/09
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OSHA Effective Ergonomics: Four-Pronged Comprehensive Approach
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OSHA Effective Ergonomics: Four-Pronged Comprehensive Approach

Highlights of OSHA's outreach and assistance programs and information about the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics.
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