As new labor and safety leaders in the Obama administration have shown they would like to require companies to address ergonomics for employees, support for government regulation comes from a safety and health organization.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently released a position statement on ergonomics (PDF) which supports “the development of ergonomics-related reporting, regulations and standards as a more effective long-term strategy” than guidelines.
AIHA says ergonomic regulations should focus on the development of health and safety programs that reduce the risk of musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs).
Specifically, AIHA has called for OSHA to:
- develop a strong and clear minimum standard for the recognition and abatement of hazards that result in MSDs based on the best available scientific and medical knowledge, and
- continue to require employers to record MSDs on Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries.
Earlier this year, interim OSHA administrator Jordan Barab called ergonomics “the 60,000-pound elephant in the room.” He acknowledged OSHA can’t create a new standard. Congress barred OSHA from issuing a similar standard when the original ergonomics rules were overturned in 2001.
However, Barab said, “we can fix this.”
Even during the Bush years, OSHA issued 19 General Duty Clause (GDC) citations for ergonomics.
Should OSHA address workplace ergonomics through regulations? Or should the agency just use the GDC to issue fines when it finds ergonomic problems? Let us know in the Comments Box below.