OSHA’s Final Ergonomics Rule Sets An Ambiguous “Standard”

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.

Used with permission. Copyright FOOD & DRUG PACKAGING, February, 2001.

For further information about this article, please contact George G. Misko at 202-434-4170 or by e-mail at misko@khlaw.com.