Employers Respond to OSHA Proposal That Foreshadows Ergonomics

By March 31, 2010Human Resources

The NAM and 18 other leading employer organizations sent the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) extensive comments to reflect our concerns with the agency’s proposed rulemaking on the recordkeeping of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). As we detail in our comments, despite many years of study and research, the scientific community remains unable to reliably define, diagnose or determine the cause of MSDs, or identify appropriate remedial measures with any degree of precision.

This proposal would require employers to implement a new regimen for recording injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

Our response explains our substantial concerns with the proposed rulemaking and argue that OSHA should withdraw the proposal entirely, including:

In light of the obvious inability to define, diagnose or determine the cause of MSDs with any degree of precision, the logical conclusion, mandated by the applicable OSH Act criteria, is that OSHA must acknowledge the limitations it faces in implementing a workable MSD provision in Part 1904 consistent with its statutory authority and withdraw the Proposed Rule. There simply is no medically and scientifically supported definition for the injuries that OSHA expects employers to record. OSHA’s attempt to establish an MSD column for the OSHA 300 Log fails to serve any useful purpose and would only lead to an inappropriate misallocation of resources that would detract from efforts to advance workplace safety and health in the United States. OSHA’s cost estimate for this proposal strained credulity and the agency utterly failed to provide an adequate factual basis for the certification necessary to avoid having to comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. Finally, the Federal Register notice was defective as OSHA mischaracterized the scope of this proposal and failed to acknowledge the critical recharacterization of MSDs from injuries to illnesses affected by language in the preamble. We urge OSHA to abandon this ill-fated attempt to classify that which is impossible objectively to verify or categorize.

If put into effect, this proposal will pose a considerable burden on employers, and the data that it seeks to collect will be inaccurate and not useful. The rule would force employers to make medical determinations regarding the “work relatedness” of potential MSDs that are often difficult for even medical professionals to determine. Employer compliance costs would rise as companies would be forced to devote extensive time and resources to implementing the new recordkeeping requirements.

To view these comments, click here.

Keith Smith

Keith Smith

Senior Vice President at National Association of Manufacturers
Keith Smith serves as senior vice president of public affairs and mobilization at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He helps lead the association’s issue advocacy campaigns as well as the NAM’s national grassroots advocacy network.
Keith Smith

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