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August 29, 2001
7:57 AM   Subscribe

got repetitive stress disorder? no you don't.

could the Bush administration piss me off any more? (more inside)

via Signal vs. Noise
posted by o2b (31 comments total)

 
Eugene Scalia, the number three man in the Labor Department and the 37-year-old son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, refers to repetitive-stress injuries, which afflict 600,000 American workers annually, as "junk science," "quackery," and "strange." Though ergonomics is a well-documented science, he paints repetitive-stress injury as a "psychosocial issue"--in effect, calling those who suffer from it fakers. "The evidence is clear," Scalia has written, "that the employees most likely to complain of musculoskeletal discomfort are those who do not like their jobs." He has also advocated exempting unionized workplaces from OSHA inspections, to "free" workers from the "cigar-chomping, rough-and-tumble world of labor-management relations."
posted by o2b at 7:57 AM on August 29, 2001


i am so disturbed by this, i can't stand it. anyone who thinks that repetitive stress injuries are a figment of 600,000 workers' minds has never worked a blue-collar job, has never been in an administrative position and has never played Unreal for 8 hours straight.

seriously, i'm so effin' steamed by the ignorance, nay, the blatant LIES of this administration.
posted by o2b at 8:13 AM on August 29, 2001


In his defense, it almost certainly *is* "psychosocial" in a lot of cases.

However, I'm not quite sure how I managed to get it... See, I don't have a job to not like. In fact, I'm feeling rather content in general... "Strange", indeed...
posted by whatnotever at 8:24 AM on August 29, 2001


"The evidence is clear," Scalia has written, "that the employees most likely to complain of musculoskeletal discomfort are those who do not like their jobs."

This is wonderful. Hey, meatpackers, supermarket cashiers, and data-entry automata! What's not to love? Quit yer bitchin'! It's not my fault you didn't have the good sense to get decent jobs, like, say, being the son of a Supreme Court Justice!

That Scalia can say this without cackling madly and twirling a handlebar moustache is really incredible. Is it too, too mad to point out that perhaps people are unhappy with these jobs because they fucking hurt?
posted by Skot at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2001


What always gets me is that people think "psycho-somatic" is equal to "not real". A disorder that starts pyschologically can very easily manifest itself physically, and then it becomes physically painful, as well as mentally. Even if a portion of the aforementioned 600,000 cases are "psychological" in nature, there is a good chance they have at least some physical aspect to them. Scalia's an idiot.
posted by starvingartist at 8:44 AM on August 29, 2001


[anyone who thinks that repetitive stress injuries are a figment of 600,000 workers' minds has never worked a blue-collar job]

Wrong. I've worked a blue collar job for the last 8 years until I got a promotion to the lab. I think it's a load of bunk from a bunch of whiners. I've had real injuries and as a seven year member of my plants safety committee I've seen real injuries occur to others. There are a couple people who rape the system and ruin it for everyone. I've seen them too...

You conservativaphobes are reaching on this one.
posted by revbrian at 8:49 AM on August 29, 2001


Amen. (to o2b)

Of course, this goes right in line with Bush's rejection of 10 years-in-the-making OSHA rules.

The Occupation Safety and Health Administration had estimated that the new rules would have generated benefits of $9.1 billion a year for each of its first 10 years, and would have prevented 460,000 musculoskelatal disorders a year

This page on the OSHA site says that the average cost of fixing each ergonomic problem is $250 dollars. But of course, making businesses pay for this is unfair, and a violation of their corporate rights....this kind of reminds me of other corporate bullshit

It is my sincere, sadistic wish, that Bush Jr. and Scalia Jr. (and hell, why not?) their pops too, suffer just 1/10,000th of the total pain and suffering that their greedy, cold-hearted, country-club attitudes will create over the next four years. Lets see: 460,000 X 4 years = 1,840,000 people. So they each would be due for a total cronic suffering of 184 people.

But no, Scalia Jr. gets a cushy job, Shrub gets a four week vacation, Scalia Sr. gets to subvert democracy, and Bush Sr. starts to look good by comparison.

Excuse me while I puke.
posted by thewittyname at 9:00 AM on August 29, 2001


Ahhh revbrian, your evidence is overwhelming. Anyone who gets carpal tunnel is obviously faking it, after all you would know. Your observations of course are proof that any and all documented SCIENTIFIC research in the area is complete bunk.

Too fucking stupid for words.
posted by Option1 at 9:02 AM on August 29, 2001


Actually, he said psychosocial, which I don't even know what that means. And revbrian, as a musician who's gotten one of these injuries from doing something I love, I can tell you it's not bunk. Sure, this guy sets himself up for some conservative bashing, but just because carpal tunnel syndrome doesn't equal crushed in in a box crusher does not mean that it is an invalid injury. Therefore, for the arbiter of national policy on this issue to write the whole thing off as crap is justification in my book to call him a fool.
posted by bob bisquick at 9:04 AM on August 29, 2001


A dangerous fool.
posted by Beefheart at 9:13 AM on August 29, 2001


There's a link to heath care comapnies as well, and pb mentioned on his site.
posted by mathowie at 9:17 AM on August 29, 2001


There's always fakers, but there are also people like me who didn't intend to file claims, but when I went to the doctor because my mouse hand kept going numb, they insisted I fill out the paperwork. I liked my job.
posted by Electric Elf at 9:27 AM on August 29, 2001


[Too fucking stupid for words.]

I wholeheartedly agree, but I doubt we're speaking of the same subject matter.
posted by revbrian at 9:45 AM on August 29, 2001


[...but just because carpal tunnel syndrome doesn't equal crushed in in a box crusher does not mean that it is an invalid injury. ]

I'm not saying they all are bunk, but I believe the vast majority of them are. My exwife was diagnosed with carpel tunnel so I'm not unaware of the issue. But many factors go into this and BAD rules are not necessarily better than none.

As someone who sits weekly and reviews accident data, and lost time injuries I am AMAZED at the idiocy of many employees. People who ignored safety rules, did not use the mandated PPE and then acted in an insanely stupid manner when they get hurt. The only thing that amazes me more is the complete fakers who are out with "back injuries" that you run in to at a party while playing volleyball.
posted by revbrian at 9:49 AM on August 29, 2001


It is good to see the calm, open-minded Metafilter community at work here. You have reacted to different opinions with a level of tolerance and respect that clearly embodies the highest values of liberalism. But then you are all probably doctors and experts in the well-developed field of ergonomics, so your vitriol is justified. Right?

I'm not taking exception to your opinions... though I'm only mildly informed about the subject, I tend to agree with you. I'm just trying to remind you that reasonable, well-educated people can have differing opinions about the existence of repetitive stress disorder. In case you had forgotten.
posted by gd779 at 9:59 AM on August 29, 2001


"I'm just trying to remind you that reasonable, well-educated people can have differing opinions about the existence of repetitive stress disorder. In case you had forgotten."

Good point, gd779. I think it reinforces o2b's original complaint: Scalia has expressed his somewhat extreme opinion and he has been appointed to a position where he can probably instill that opinion into law. The issue here shouldn't be the argument of whether RSI is real or not; it should be the appointment of someone so obviously biased to a position of influence. Given that the Scalia family doesn't seem to spend much time in introspection over such issues as personal bias, that bias could lead to some pretty bad results.
posted by joaquim at 10:27 AM on August 29, 2001


Setting aside for a moment whether or not RSIs are real, I can attest to the fact that their unverifiable nature makes them ripe for abuse by unscrupulous employees (and don't try to tell me that there aren't any).

Interesting fact: In the 10 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect, the most common "disabilities" are back injuries. Of course, back injuries are notoriously difficult to diagnose, and the diagnosis is often based on the subjective complaints. The second most common disabilities? Mental disabilities. Again -- totally based on subjective complaints. CTS and other RSIs are rapidly rising up the list. I think there's a real problem with some employees sensing an easy way to collect disability benefits, or to seek accommodations to make their jobs easier. I'm not saying I agree with Mr. Scalia, but I think there's some reason to view some claimed injuries with skepticism.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:32 AM on August 29, 2001


why are there so many sons of politicians in positions of power in the bush administration, and they hell-bent on giving big business a free ride?
posted by maura at 11:37 AM on August 29, 2001


Has anyone bothered to read Scalia's analysis of the issue, or are you just going to spout your pre-conceived notions based on a story from a biased liberal source? The quoting out of context in that article is criminal. Shame on you people for your naive trust.

The summary:
The causes of musculoskeletal pain are not well-known, nor is the relationship between certain ergonomic factors and said pain.
How can regulations be implemented when there is no scientific consensus as to what proper measures should be?
posted by marknau at 12:06 PM on August 29, 2001


Ok, having read Scalia's analysis, I am still astounded by this passage:

The tasks [OSHA] consider[s] hazardous include activities that are not demanding at all; "[u]sing the hands to wring out a mop," for instance, and [h]olding a jar in one hand while attempting to remove the lid with the other hand" are both identified as occupational hazards in OSHA's proposed rule. "Awkward postures" and "cold tempuratures" are also ergonomic "risk factors." ... OSHA's proposed rule warns not only against "[b]ending or twisting" but also against "maintaining [the] same position or posture" and "[s]itting for a long time"; ... OSHA considers it per se hazardous to use hands for what they're made for — "handling."

Talk about quoting out of context.

Of course these actions are not inherently hazardous, I don't think anyone will dispute this. It's the repetitive nature of the jobs that require these actions that is hazardous. I don't think people would be calling in sick because they had to open a jar or two a day, or wring out a mop once a day... It's when a janitor has to wring his/her mop out by hand 50 times a day that becomes hazardous. It's when a UPS delivery person has to lift a 50 pound, hard-to-pick-up box 300 times a day. It's when a data-entry clerk has to keep his/her body in one position all day in order to maintain a steady flow of data to meet quotas.

It's when a meatpacker has to work in freezing conditions 7 days a week with a dull knife and two other guys within 6 inches of him/her that I start worrying when he's going to rip the guts out of someone. And then they speed up the line.

I do not doubt that there are many many fakes (I'm sure many of us have seen them on Fox...), but would you sacrifice the lives and well-being of the legitimate claims to prevent the fakes?

Not me.

If the world's leading experts cannot tell when a company has adopted appropriate ergonomic measures, how is the everage employer to know what steps to take?

Ask the damn employees. Ask them if it hurts. Check to see if a large proportion of them are going to the doctor for the same afflictions. If they are, something's wrong.

Even the fact there are fakers out there means there is a problem. If employers or the government (read as: Bush administration) cared enough to fix the problem, fakers wouldn't have a case.

Cut to the core of Scalia's analysis and I get this:

Thousands of people are getting hurt, but we can't figure out why, so, why do anything about it? Especially when attempting to fix the problem might mean slowing production and decreasing profits.
posted by o2b at 12:58 PM on August 29, 2001


What is wrong with wanting to make make sure people don't hate and aren't endangered by their jobs? The fact that the business owners do not care is a sign that something is wrong in our society.

I'll shut up now.
posted by o2b at 1:05 PM on August 29, 2001


At least we're back on reasonable ground now.

A large difference here is in philosophy. As a Libertarian, I don't believe we should be invoking government coercion so capriciously.

Many of the things you describe as "hazardous" are things that billions of people have done throughout time, the vast majority of whom had no symptoms.

So, how do we determine what to change? Remember in the Pepperidge Farm case, they went through any number of iterations, without any conclusive remedy. That you think the best way to handle this is through the issuing of centrally-mandated solutions seems utterly insane.

I take everyone's freedom seriously, not just those people I happen to like. I know you hate "Big Business," and see no reason to just tell them what to do in any situation that moves you, but that is a wrong-headed approach.
posted by marknau at 1:09 PM on August 29, 2001


Cut to the core of Scalia's analysis and I get this:
Thousands of people are getting hurt, but we can't figure out why, so, why do anything about it? Especially when attempting to fix the problem might mean slowing production and decreasing profits.


I wish I didn't have to point this out, but do you see what you are suggesting? That we should do something just for the sake of doing something instead of actually trying to figure out what works and doing that?

Mandating that computer keyboards have a certain shape, are maintained at a certain height, and have certain padding is ridiculous if we don't know what the proper values for those variables are, or if it's a keyboard that only gets used for five minutes a day, or if the people using the keyboard actually have shapes and sizes that differ from the average test subject.

Common sense will solve the problem, not hard regulations.

I'm just trying to remind you that reasonable, well-educated people can have differing opinions about the existence of repetitive stress disorder. In case you had forgotten.

Are you talking about in a particular person? Then yes I agree. If you are talking about whether RSD exists anywhere, then you are wrong.
posted by daveadams at 1:28 PM on August 29, 2001


Quick follow up to further express where I'm coming from:

There are companies that publish pornography. For money. We have no definitive proof that it does any harm, but many people feel strongly that it does. Why just sit and do nothing when we could save millions of people by banning this smut!!! Think of the children!!

Similar arguments can be made against video-game violence, "inappropriate" TV shows, movies, or books, marijuana use, etc. etc. etc.

All those arguments are wrong-headed. Let people live in freedom, and only outlaw those things that clearly represent one person violating the liberty of another. Err on the side of liberty.
posted by marknau at 1:29 PM on August 29, 2001


That you think the best way to handle this is through the issuing of centrally-mandated solutions seems utterly insane. I know you hate "Big Business," ...

You're putting words in my mouth. I have said nothing regarding "centrally-mandated solutions," and I do not hate "big business."

I am in favor of reasonable legislation, instead of none, and I hate business people that sacrifice the health of their workers for a bigger profit margin (the meatpacking industry is a perfect example).

The simple fact is that, by its very existence as an idea, repetitive stress disorder exists, be the causes psycho-social, psycosomatic or "real." People get hurt by doing the same things over and over again.

Many of the things you describe as "hazardous" are things that billions of people have done throughout time...

Didn't I say that? It's not the action, it's the repetitiveness. You can stare at the sun for a second or two without damage, but stare at it too long and you will get hurt. The same concept applies to jars and boxes, however simple the tasks may be.

"Centrally mandated solutions" would not be nessesary if "big business" would pay attention to the human cost of their profit-watching.
posted by o2b at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2001


I guess I need to slightly clarify what I meant by "billions of people have done throughout time."

Janitor is not a new occupation. Hand-wringing mops was the standard for many decades. This was considered a plum job compared to working in the fields or in a chicken-plucking factory.

My great-grandfather worked in a Pennsylvania coal mine. Do you suppose *that* was repetitive? How about all the sewing his wife was doing at the time to make their clothes and to make ends meet? Judging from the stories passed on to me, through his writings and my family, they were mostly overjoyed at being in a free country, not whining about how someone owed them something.

NOW, I don't mean to imply that people aren't in serious pain due to job responsibilities. But the way to treat that is for the people closest to the issue to work on resolving it. We also have a tort system that can award monetary damages in cases of negligence or intentional abuse.
posted by marknau at 2:21 PM on August 29, 2001


i probably shouldn't be saying this (*cough*attention all lawyers, i'm REALLY JOKING*cough*), but the Scalia thing might be genetic.

I used to be a tenant in a building owned by his grandson, and while i lived there, and said relative approached my then wife for sexual favours in exchange for rent.

bleh.
posted by jcterminal at 3:22 PM on August 29, 2001


Jcterminal, the sexual favors is a Republican thing, which may actually make it genetic as you must be white, anglo-saxon, protestant, male etc..Oh yes, and angry at those liberals..just like Stalin was, and Hitler was, and Mao was... history repeats itself but now it's here in the US. Didn't realize that truth? Study your history then.
posted by nofundy at 6:35 AM on August 30, 2001


nofundy: only WHITE people demand sexual favours?

ok. who the fuck let you out of wonderland?

my experience with a member of the scalia family has nothing to do with your politics, thanks anyways.
posted by jcterminal at 2:23 PM on August 30, 2001


I strongly suspect that Stalin, Mao, and Hitler would also take a dim view of the Religious Right.

You try to imply that conservatives are ideologically equivalent to mass murderers by stating that both opposed foolishness. That doesn't make sense.

Query: Why am I taking nofundy seriously? I know from his history of good posting that he doesn't literally believe what he posted. He's too smart to be taken in by that kind of baseless propaganda. Also: Godwin's law.
posted by gd779 at 3:49 PM on August 30, 2001


I don't get Nofundy.

Are commies the bad guys?
Oh yes, and angry at those liberals..just like Stalin was, and Hitler was, and Mao was...

Or Good?
"all you commies"

That's the first group the original Nazis demonized and went after too...


Should we get over things?
Get over it! I realize the topic keeps arising because of the historical revisionism of Jefferson Davis and his "it was about states rights" ilk but it is, in my opinion, wrong headed.

Or is that asking too much?
BTW, I'm never getting over the usurpation of democracy folks, so why don't you get over telling me to "get over it?"

Can we ever overuse a word as good as Dixiecrat? Or is Nazi the new flavor? I really wish I had more time at the moment. More to come I am sure.
posted by thirteen at 5:03 PM on August 30, 2001


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