The use of a computer keyboard to illustrate the Nov. 22 front-page article "OSHA Offers Standard to Fight Injuries in Workplace" may have left the impression that computers are a major cause of repetitive motion injuries.
Statistics released in April by the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrate that injuries attributed to repetitive typing or key entry are insignificant, a mere 0.6 percent, or just 11,600 cases of 1,833,380 reported injuries and illnesses in 1997 that were serious enough to require days away from work.
Despite the large numbers used by OSHA to justify this ergonomics standard, the number of injuries and illnesses attributed to all repetitive motion in all job categories was just 75,188, or 4.1 percent of the cases requiring time away from work. The largest share of repetitive motion incidents, 47.7 percent, occurred in the manufacturing sector.
As a trade association concerned about office workplace safety, we think it is important for computer users to adopt work habits and techniques that ensure they are working comfortably, but we also want people to understand that the office remains one of the safest workplaces.
Center for office Technology