Introduction

In May 1998, the National Institutes of Health asked the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council to assemble a group of experts for two tasks: to examine the scientific literature relevant to the issue of work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the lower back, neck, and upper extremities and to address seven questions posed by U.S. Representative Robert Livingston on this topic. The steering committee established to carry out these tasks was composed of experts in orthopedic surgery, occupational medicine, epidemiology, ergonomics, human factors, and risk analysis. It was responsible for designing and moderating a workshop, identifying and inviting participation by the leading researchers in relevant areas, and preparing two reports: one presenting the steering committee's conclusions and the other summarizing the workshop and providing the papers prepared for the workshop. The first report (National Research Council, 1998) was issued in September 1998. This is the second report.

The workshop was designed to focus on the current state of the scientific research base pertaining to work-related musculoskeletal disorders, including risk factors that can contribute to such disorders, and interventions that may alleviate or prevent such disorders. The steering committee invited approximately 90 leading scientists from the fields of orthopedic surgery, occupational medicine, public health, ergonomics, and human factors to participate in the workshop; 66 of the invitees attended. In selecting participants, the steering committee relied primarily on two criteria: experts who are



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