Safety and OSHA News

Ergonomics: High priority for new OSHA administrator

When OSHA published its regulatory agenda this month, acting administrator Jordan Barab held a one-hour Web chat to answer questions about it. One of the most popular inquiries: ergonomic injuries and what OSHA plans to do about them.

In the 60-minute Web chat, Barab received five questions about ergonomics.

One thing is for sure: Ergonomics is a priority now at OSHA. At a minimum, the agency would like companies to make ergonomics a more frequent safety training topic to reduce related injuries. And the current administration has signaled that, even without an ergonomics standard, it will use the General Duty Clause to issue citations when inspections uncover ergonomic problems.

Here’s what we know from Barab’s answers to questions during the Web chat:

  • While OSHA will propose a rule to define work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) and add a separate column for them on its required workplace injuries log (300 Log), Barab said that isn’t a prelude to a broader ergonomic standard. OSHA has no plan for regulatory activity on WMSDs at this time, Barab said.
  • OSHA hopes requiring companies to note ergonomic injuries on the 300 Log will provide useful information that employers and workers can use to better identify WMSDs in the workplace.
  • Barab said the new OSHA administrator, David Michaels “will intensify the process of determining how we are going to address ergonomics.” Barab also said Michaels will address ergonomics “as one of his highest priorities.”
  • Industry-specific standards, such as safe patient handling in healthcare facilities, is one option OSHA will consider.

How should OSHA handle ergonomics? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. Wow! Maybe they can create more govt. jobs to address this ergonomic nightmare, and really get this economy rolling again!

  2. David Johnson says:

    Let’s crush industry under more government regulation! That’ll get the economy going again!

  3. saving one back or shoulder through better ergo training is worth every bit of the money spent. Call it what you want (“government regulation”) I call it saving the employee.

  4. That’s fine, John L. But, I can and do get that information myself. And I’ve done the training before it became a buzzword to Congress. I’m not dependent on the govt. to bail me out. You see something wrong, you take care of it. Personal responsibility.

  5. Osha would do well to HELP business with this one. I’m finding ergo-related issues are not always obvious. Further, with an aging work force, it’s not always clear if the current work is the problem or something from many years before.

  6. Steve has a great point there. The aging workforce is a big part of the rise in ergo issues. I have taught Ergonomics for 3 years and know through results that training and ergo tools will reduce MSD’s in the workplace. It’s not about creating more govt. jobs or crushing industry under more regulaion. The average MSD (according to Liberty Mutual) costs $35,000. We owe it to our employees and companies to teach ergonomics and keep healthy workers on and off of the job . It makes good dollar sense.

  7. Interesting update on what the regulators are doing. Meanwhile, hospitals are implementing safe patient handling (SPH) programs to help nurses and other workers understand how not to get injured while moving patients.

    There are some bills being debated at the federal and state levels regarding SPH – Al Franken has introduced one in the Senate. If you want to learn more about SPH and/or track the legislative side, you can visit the site the American Nurses Assn has set up on this issue:


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