, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Business Blasts OSHA's Proposed Ergonomics Rules 4289

Business Blasts OSHA's Proposed Ergonomics Rules

Business is criticizing the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's efforts to issue new ergonomics regulations before completion of a congressionally mandated study on ergonomics.
The new rules would allow OSHA inspectors to impose penalties on employers for failing to find and fix ergonomic hazards.

"Any ergonomic regulation must be based on sound science," saycs Robb Mackie, vice president for government relations at the American Bakers Association. There is no consensus in the medical and scientific communities as to the clear causes and remedies for repetitive-stress injuries."
The bakers group is one of more than 300 companies and organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that have formed the National Coalition on Ergonomics, which opposes the proposal.
OSHA has moved ahead with a draft proposal even though the National Academy of Sciences is 18 to 24 months away from completing its study on whether there is scientific evidence to link work activities and musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.

The coalition is backing a bill introduced by Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., with bipartisan co-sponsorship, that would prohibit OSHA from issuing an ergonomics rule until the study is completed. The agency is planning to issue a final regulation in early 2000.
OSHA contends that certain job tasks, including those involving repetitive motions, heavy lifting, and vibrations, cause musculoskeletal or repetitive-stress injuries and illnesses.

In the draft proposal, which was released in February, OSHA states that "work-related musculoskeletal disorders" account for more than 34 percent of all injuries and illnesses that lead to lost workdays.

The proposed new standards would apply to all companies with manufacturing jobs, to those where "manual handling" occurs, and to those where a musculoskeletal injury or illness has been reported.
The regulations would require covered businesses to identify and provide information on ergonomic hazards to employees and provide medical management to workers who developed musculoskeletal disorders. Employers would also be required to redesign workplaces, employees' job tasks, or both.


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