In 2011, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that forced workers to miss at least one day on the job, accounted for one-third of all workplace injuries that required time off from work. That’s up from 29% in 2010, according to recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
It is unclear, says BLS, if the increase in reported MSD injuries is the result of more workers getting hurt on the job or a change from 2010 in the way injuries are classified. However, say workplace safety advocates, MSD injuries caused by repetitive motion, lifting or other workplace activities, are the major cause of serious worker injuries.
AFL-CIO Safety and Health Director Peg Seminario reminds us that since the Bush administration and the Republican Congress in 2001 repealed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ergonomic rule that specifically addressed MSDs and the workplace practices that cause such injures, no OSHA standard protects workers from ergonomic injuries.
The MSD statistics are from the BLS’s "Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work, 2011" report. The report found six occupations accounted for 26% of the MSD cases in 2011: nursing assistants, laborers, janitors and cleaners, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, registered nurses and stock clerks.