Ergonomics replacement program proposed

May 1, 2002 By    

A four-pronged approach will replace the mandatory ergonomics standards withdrawn last year by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

The Bush administration’s Department of Labor decided not to issue new rules, but rather to launch a workplace injury reduction program emphasizing guidelines to help reduce risk, enforcement of existing rules, assistance to employers and employees, and further studying the issue.

OSHA plans to issue a series of industry-by-industry guidelines starting this year to reduce musculoskeletal disorders. The agency also plans to encourage industries to develop their own standards.

The Department of Labor plans to develop an enforcement plan to target violations of existing laws focusing on the worst offenders, rather than prosecuting isolated incidents. Prosecutors will work with inspectors to focus enforcement on past violators – not those who are trying to improve.

Employers found with violations will get “ergonomic hazard alert letters” followed by inspections within the year.

OSHA also expects to provide training and guidelines to employers and employees. It plans to spread the word about successful injury reduction programs and develop training tools.

The agency promises to reach out to immigrant workers, especially those with limited English proficiency who are less likely to understand hazards and rules.

Finally, to learn more about workplace injuries, OSHA will create an advisory committee to explore what we still need to learn.

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