Thursday, February 12, 2004

Back Pain? Shut Up And Deal With It!

Sometimes you get a gift. I had missed this article about back pain in the New York Times on Tuesday. I finally read it after someone pointed it out to me, and noted that several of the experts quoted were leaders of the campaign against the ergonomics standard. Stanley Bigos and Norton Hadler who come up with gems like this:
Other studies have indicated that the development of abnormal disks is usually inherited. But there were no links to occupation, sports injuries or weak muscles, said Dr. Norton Hadler, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina.
Ah, another evening ranting and raving at my computer, I thought. But lo and behold, I was saved the effort by Darryl Alexander, Director of Health and Safety at AFT. She left a comment attached to my posting about the Detroit News column on ergonomics "science."
Interesting that the "scientists" used by the Chamber, NAM etc. recently surfaced in an article by Gina Kolata in the NY Times on the mystery of back injury cause and treatment. Dr. Hadler that well-credentialed expert was quoted as well as Stanley Bigos - both stating that we really don't know what is causing all these back problems and that "no treatment" seems to work as well or better than expensive treatment to getting workers back to work. Not a word in the article about work-related association of back injuries and returning workers to the same jobs that caused the problem in the first place.

We are in real trouble if these characters get front page exposure and credibility from the NY times.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Brought back memories of the OSHA ergonomics hearings where these so-called experts futilely tryed to explain how there was no association between back pain and jobs that required heavy lifting, as if the high incidence of back pain among nursing home employees was a product of pure coincidence. (Or maybe people with a previous history of back pain are naturally attracted to nursing, just as people with pre-existing neck and wrist pain are naturally attracted to chicken processing.)

And they complain about "junk science." Makes you want to scream.