WASHINGTON - Identification of research gaps, improving ergonomics success story collections and distribution processes, and ensuring that ergonomics is part of an overall safety and health program are some of the recommendations made by the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during its recent final meeting in Washington.

The committee's work groups - guidelines, research, and outreach and assistance - proposed their final recommendations to the full committee for further presentation to OSHA. The two-day meeting culminated a process begun two years ago when NACE was chartered by the secretary of labor to provide advice and recommendations to help OSHA accelerate the decline of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace.

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw thanked the committee members for their work, stating, "Over the past two years, you've helped us move forward in addressing ergonomics in America's workplaces. And while the committee's charter is expiring, ergonomics remains an important issue to the agency. We still have much to learn about ergonomics and we still have the challenge of putting what we already know into practice. You've helped us identify some strategies for the future and we are deeply grateful."

One of those strategies includes the possibility of a formal presentation at a future NIOSH-sponsored National Occupational Research Agenda meeting citing the eight specific research gaps identified by the committee.

Adding to previous recommendations regarding outreach and assistance, NACE suggested that OSHA increase the number, quality, and use of ergonomic success stories posted on the agency's Web site and offered a success story template to facilitate the process.

During previous meetings, the 15-member committee urged OSHA to work through its partnership and alliance programs to expand information on best practices and to hold a research symposium (which was accomplished last January). And, in a January 2004 meeting, NACE identified 16 additional industries for the agency to consider for future ergonomics guidelines.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Publication date: 12/20/2004