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This volume is the work of the Steering Committee for the Workshop on Work-Related Musculoskeletal Injuries: The Research Base, which was established in May 1998 by the National Research Council (NRC) in response to a request from the National Institutes of Health. The charge was to design a workshop to examine the scientific literature on work-related musculoskeletal disorders and to prepare a report based on the workshop discussions and the committee members' own expertise. In developing the workshop, the steering committee identified leading researchers to participate as paper presenters and discussants.
Part I of this volume presents the steering committee's report, which was published as a separate document in October 1998. It contains a general framework for examining the literature, a discussion of the state-of-the-evidence regarding both work-related and non-work-related factors, a list of issues that deserve the attention of researchers, and the committee's response to a series of questions posed by Congress. Part II provides a summary of the workshop proceedings, and Part III contains the workshop papers. Because the steering committee's report and the workshop summary were initially prepared as stand-alone documents there is some overlap in their introductory sections.
Many individuals have made significant contributions to the success of the project. First, we extend our thanks to the members of the steering committee, who were willing to work on a complex and controversial topic under extreme time pressure. Each offered a unique perspective that led to a fuller understanding of the issues and the relevance of the existing science base. Also, we thank the workshop participants for their interest in the topic and their work in writing papers and preparing discussion statements on a very constrained time schedule.