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June 13, 2024
NSC releases report on DEI, MSD connection

A report examining data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau shows that workers of color face more work-related injuries and illnesses, as well as contributing factors, the National Safety Council (NSC) announced on June 10.

The NSC report, “The Intersection of DEI and MSDs: Ensuring Equitable Outcomes,” acknowledges both racial disparities in the workplace and the fact that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common workplace injury. It was published through the MSD Solutions Lab, the NSC’s initiative funded by Amazon to address work-related MSDs.

The report identifies workplace factors that can lead to inequitable MSD outcomes and provides solutions for injury and illness mitigation. It references more than 100 academic publications and sources examining the impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion on work organization, workplace and equipment design, safety culture, psychological safety, and psychosocial risk factors.

Key findings include:

  • Shift work, long hours, and part-time employee status can impact the prevalence of MSDs among workers.
  • Depending on a workstation’s design, an employee who uses a wheelchair or an employee who is smaller than a fifth-percentile female may have difficulty accessing parts of their workstation.
  • Workplaces that don’t offer benefits, such as paid sick leave and long-term disability, can create an “unsafe” culture in which employees feel anxiety about taking necessary time off when they’ve suffered a workplace injury.
  • Compared with other racial and ethnic groups, black and Hispanic workers report the most unease about reporting unsafe work conditions.
  • Psychological stress has been shown to increase MSDs, with role conflict and a lack of job control leading to wrist, hand, shoulder, and lower-back issues.

“At the National Safety Council, we believe fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion is not only a moral imperative but also essential for creating safer and healthier work environments for all,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine Martin said in a statement.

NSC gets additional $3 million for “Work to Zero”

On June 5, the NSC announced an additional $3 million grant from the McElhattan Foundation for the NSC’s “Work to Zero” initiative. The NSC launched Work to Zero in 2019 with funding from the McElhattan Foundation to educate employers on technological safety enhancements that promise to reduce and ultimately eliminate workplace fatalities.

The group last received a supplemental $3 million grant from McElhattan Foundation in 2021.

“Through the Work to Zero initiative at NSC, we demonstrate the benefits of safety technology and help employers implement solutions to save lives. None of those efforts would be possible without the McElhattan Foundation,” Martin said in a statement.

Since its last round of funding, Work to Zero has:

  • Released educational materials and webinars on emerging safety topics like drones, fatigue monitoring and wearables, proximity sensors, and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR), as well as location geofencing technology;
  • Launched the Safety Innovation Journey;
  • Participated in the “Future of EHS” in 2023 and 2024, bringing together leading environment, health, and safety (EHS) experts to discuss the latest lifesaving technology; and
  • Wrapped up its first Safety Innovation Challenge, a pilot program designed to help small to midsize companies try out and adopt safety technologies.
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