LETTER TO THE EDITORPosted On: Jan. 5, 1997 12:00 AM CST
MANDATE IS NEEDED TO ASSURE WORK SAFETY
Your Dec. 16 editorial, "Ergonomic Lesson Not Learned," was the most ludicrous piece of pseudo-journalistic rhetoric I have seen in 20 years. Who is paying you to write this misleading information, Democrats, business, or are you bored with nothing better to do?
The sixth paragraph of this editorial says it all, and certainly validates your stand on the issue:
"We don't pretend that repetitive motion injuries are not a significant problem that needs solutions, but we don't think this should be the safety agency's top priority when more basic workplace safety problems continue to claim lives and injure workers."
Those "more basic safety problems" were regulated in the early '70s. The real problem isn't the basic issues, it's management accountability.
Regulations governing personal protection equipment, machine safeguarding and electrical lockout, among others, are all in place but management is not accountable for enforcement-responsible, yes, but not accountable. Workers continue to die because of management, not regulations.
Your editorial supports the premise that "We hope employers take steps to participate in those efforts and demonstrate that they are capable of leading the search for a solution to ergonomics ailments without a government mandate."
Please, business won't even do what's regulated, how do you expect it to proact on a voluntary basis?
A worker at a meatpacking plant in Nebraska died a few weeks ago because he stabbed himself in the leg, and severed his femoral artery. The poor man wasn't wearing his "regulated" personal protective steel mesh apron/leggings. Shouldn't management be held accountable for this tragedy?
You should attend one of my classes and see the results of students attempting to change careers, who try to take notes and can't because they have had bilateral carpal tunnel surgery from working in a turkey processing plant for a few years. I invite you and your staff to attend a class on ergonomics and repetitive motion, and get a real picture of how repetitive motion injuries can be eliminated or reduced, how cost effectively jobs and workstations can be redesigned.
And on a more aggressive note, I challenge you to get your facts straight. Ergonomics is not only an issue that should be mandated, it's an issue that must be mandated.
Ask the employees who are most affected, and those who have been crippled by the same businesses that are fighting and paying huge sums of money, when those same funds could have been directed toward solving their ergonomic problems.
Instructor-Occupational Safety & Health/Industrial Hygiene
Texas State Technical College