How to define musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) for recording cases on recordkeeping logs is something OSHA will address in a final rule in 2003. MSD recordkeeping requirements would then go into effect in 2004.

OSHA does not believe the delay will make it more difficult for employers, workers and the agency to address workplace ergonomic hazards, or undermine OSHA's ability to enforce the general duty clause for ergonomic hazards.

Employers are required to record all injuries and illnesses meeting the criteria established in Sections 1904.4 through 1904.7 of the recordkeeping rule regardless of whether a particular injury or illness meets the definition of MSD in Section 1904.12. OSHA contends that the delay in implementing Section 1904.12 will not reduce the number of cases recorded or affect the narrative description of the injury or illness that must be provided for each case. Employers who use the log and injury reports to discover ergonomic hazards will be able to continue to do so, relying on the description-of-injury information and other data to identify MSDs in their workplaces.

The sole effect of the delay is that employers need not use the definition to categorize cases on the OSHA Recordkeeping Log for calendar year 2003. This recordkeeping issue does not affect an employer's obligation under the general duty clause. The employer remains obligated to free its workplace from recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious physical harm.

OSHA is modifying the note following the introduction to Section 1904.12 to inform employers of the policy that will be in effect during 2003. The note also informs the employer that, instead of checking the column on the 300 Log for musculoskeletal disorders (since this column has been removed from the log), the employer is to check the column for "injury" or "all other illness," depending on the circumstances of the case.