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OSHA ergonomics rules to take effect Jan. 16

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The Clinton administration has pushed through controversial ergonomics regulations that are to take effect four days before the inauguration.

Several business groups have filed suit to block the regulations. Their argument: The rules are based on bad science, will cost more than the government predicts and conflict with other laws.

Example: There's no guidance on how to coordinate state laws with OSHA's new rules. OSHA requires that employees not working because of a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) or repetitive motion injury receive 90 percent of their wages. Those on restricted or light duty are to receive 100 percent.

Employers also will have to provide workers with OSHA-dictated information about MSDs.

If an employee has a work-related MSD that requires medical treatment beyond first aid, symptoms lasting seven consecutive days after reporting them, restricted work or time off, the employer must analyze the job to determine whether it poses a hazard. If it does, the employer has to launch an ergonomics program.

The rules include a "quick fix" option, and existing ergonomics programs may be grandfathered. Construction, maritime, railroad and agriculture jobs are excluded.

The rules from the Nov. 14 Federal Register are posted at www.access.gpo. gov. You'll find more information at www.osha.gov.

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