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Opinions on OSHA ergo rule roll in

April 24, 2000
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Among the many, many comments OSHA has received on its ergonomics standard proposal:

The American Industrial Hygiene Association strongly supports OSHA's proposal, but adds —

  • Employers should examine jobs with high risks (instead of waiting for an injury to happen);
  • Differing medical opinions on causes of injuries should be resolved by third parties;
  • OSHA should get more specific about how existing ergo programs would satisfy requirements; and
  • Employees need more training on hazard awareness.

The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine supports the "premise" of a standard, but adds —

  • A medical diagnosis should decide if a musculoskeletal disorder is reportable; and
  • Professionals trained in ergonomics, industrial hygiene, or safety engineering should determine if quick-fix solutions actually work.

The Society for Human Resource Management offers no caveats. OSHA should abandon its work on an ergo rule, the group urges. It is an "unwarranted compliance burden" and "poses serious conflicts with the National Labor Relations Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state workers' compensation laws," according to the group.

Dan MacLeod, an ergonomics consultant and author with 30 years of industry experience, says:

  • OSHA field staff lacks the experience to enforce the standard;
  • It's impossible to clearly distinguish compliance from non-compliance; and
  • "OSHA is simply not capable of enforcing a standard as vague and complex as this ergonomics proposal."

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