Date: Feb 01, 2001
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) final rule
on ergonomics programs in the workplace became effective on January 16, 2001.
It was challenged almost immediately after it was first published
last November by a large number of businesses and trade unions. They were displeased for
several reasons - cost to industry being one. They also say that the standard is
ambiguous, that it gives no clear means of determining exact cause and effect of an
employee's muscular-skeletal disorder. Those cases will move forward over the next 12
to 18 months, while implementation of the final rule will begin in October 2001.
According to the standard, employers must identify and correct
conditions in the workplace that lead to muscular-skeletal disorders. Employers must train
employees, provide medical attention for employees who report muscular-skeletal disorders
and make workplace corrections when those disorders are found to be related to the
employees work environment. As with other OSHA regulations, failure to comply will result
in fines and penalties.
The Employment Policy Foundation estimates the cost to industry for
implementation will be $100 billion. OSHA, however, cites a different figure - around
$4 to $5 billion. The reality probably lies somewhere between. You
can read the final standard at www.osha.gov.
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