OSHA: Statement of Need: OSHA estimates that work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the United States account for over 600,000 injuries and illnesses (34 percent of all lost workdays reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). These disorders now account for one out of every three dollars spent on workers' compensation. It is estimated that employers spend as much as $20 billion a year on direct costs for MSD-related workers' compensation, and up to five times that much for indirect costs, such as those associated with hiring and training replacement workers. In addition to these monetary effects, MSDs often impose a substantial personal toll on affected workers who can no longer work or perform simple personal tasks like buttoning their clothes or brushing their hair.
Scientific evidence associates MSDs with stresses to various body parts caused by the way certain tasks are performed. The positioning of the body and the type of physical work that must be done to complete a job may cause persistent pain and lead to deterioration of the affected joints, tissues, and muscles. The longer the worker must maintain a fixed or awkward posture, exert force, repeat the same movements, experience vibration, or handle heavy items, the greater the chance that such a disorder will occur. These job-related stresses are referred to as "workplace risk factors," and the scientific literature demonstrates that exposure to these risk factors, particularly in combination, significantly increases an employee's risk of developing a work-related musculoskeletal disorder. Jobs involving exposure to workplace risk factors appear in all types of industries and in all sizes of facilities.
In addition to their social costs, workplace injuries and illnesses have a major impact on an employer's bottom line. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone. The costs of workplace injuries and illnesses include direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include workers' compensation payments, medical expenses, and costs for legal services. Examples of indirect costs include training replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.