Employers in another state may soon be facing mandatory rules to reduce the number of employees’ ergonomic injuries.
Michigan is in line to join California as the only states to require employers to have ergonomic programs.
Michigan’s rule would require that all employees be given ergonomic awareness training that covers:
- occupational risk factors
- signs and symptoms that indicate an ergonomic hazard may be present
- a process for reporting that an ergonomic hazard may be present, and
- a process for assessing and responding to ergonomic occupational risk.
Companies would have to document that training was performed.
Employers would also have to establish a process for assessing and responding to ergonomic occupational risk factors that includes:
- employee involvement
- assessment of ergonomic risks, and
- elimination, reduction or control of ergonomic hazards where economically and technically feasible.
The proposal continues to undergo state review, and a public hearing will have to be held. However, members of two key state commissions unanimously approved the measure in January.
The rule would take effect six months after it’s enacted.
From 2 states to 50?
While Michigan is working on its own rule, President Obama has said he favors restoring a federal ergonomics standard that would require employers to educate employees about musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), keep records on these types of injuries and determine their risks for MSDs.
Eliminating or reducing ergonomic injuries can save businesses significant costs. About $1 of every $3 spent on workers’ comp are spent on MSDs. Overall, U.S. employers absorb $20 billion in costs associated with ergonomic injuries.
Do you have an ergonomics program at your workplace? What do you think about state or federal rules to require employers to have ergonomic programs? Let us know about your program and opinions in the Comments Box below.