Saturday, April 23, 2005

BlackBerry Thumb: Poetic Justice?

Recognizing the very real pain that ergonomic disorders cause, there is still something deliciously ironic about this:
Sandy Boyd's BlackBerry had become her passion. Now it has also become a source of pain.

About three months ago, the National Association of Manufacturers vice president noticed that, as she started to type, the area between her thumb and wrist would begin to throb.

Orthopedists say they are seeing an increasing number of patients with similar symptoms, a condition known as "overuse syndrome" or "BlackBerry thumb." In some patients, the disability has become severe.
For those of you just tuning in, the National Association of Manufacturers was one of the leaders in the campaign to stop OSHA from issuing an ergnomics standard, to repeal the standard in March 2001 after it was issued, and is leading the current effort to force OSHA to withdraw voluntary guidelines issued over the past three years because of the lack of "hard, verifiable scientific evidence."

NAM questions not only whether there is enough science behind ergonomics, but also whether musculoskeletal injuries like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome are even real "injuries" or just (probably imaginary) undefinable pain, and whether MSDs are caused by work or perhaps extracurricular activities (been staying up late playing your kids' video games, Ms Boyd, or perhaps sneaking out for midnite bowling?).

As the musculoskeletal disorders spread from the meatpacking floor, nursing home and cubicle to the corporate and goverment suites of the nation's powerbrokers, one wonders what effect an epidemic of "BlackBerry Thumb" will have on the how the power elite views ergonomics.

Finally, in all seriousness, as millions of American workers can testify, these injuries are serious, painful and nothing to laugh about. Ms. Boyd, all of us here at Confined Space wish you a speedy recovery.