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Don’t ignore ergonomics

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Don't forget about ergonomics just because Congress scrapped the Clinton administration's controversial rules. Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) can still hurt your bottom line, and the feds still have the power to issue penalties if you ignore blatant problems.

The regulations would have forced many businesses to teach workers how to avoid ergonomic injuries and to pay for such injuries when they occur.

Advice: The repeal is a big win for business, but it isn't license to ignore the problem. Injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and back strain can hurt your productivity and increase your health and labor costs. In fact, they account for 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In most cases, a few simple, cheap moves can make your workplace more ergonomically healthy.

Another key factor: The Occupational Safety and Health Administra-tion (OSHA) can still use its "general duty clause" to go after egregious cases of RSI neglect when no other specific statute covers a safety problem. OSHA inspectors have used the general duty clause 550 times to cite companies for ergonomics violations.

Also, several states have ergonomics standards on their books that you still need to follow, and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said she's considering new ergonomics regulations.

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