Saturday, June 10, 2006

After the Storm: Weighing in on the OSHA Ergonomic Guidelines

Do voluntary guidelines work? ...

"A little more than 2 years have passed since OSHA released its voluntary ergonomic guidelines. The storm that enveloped the process leading up to the release of the nursing home, poultry processing and grocery retail guidelines has ceased. The big question: Have the guidelines produced results?

The controversy started in November 2000, when OSHA released an ergonomics rule that, according to industry representatives, would cost them anywhere from $20 billion to more than $100 billion a year. Businesses would be required to slow the pace of production, hire more workers, increase rest periods and redesign workstations or even operations, business representatives claimed. They also argued that such action would "federalize" the workplace.

OSHA, on the other hand, pointed to an estimated 4.6 million workers over a 10-year period who would be spared repetitive motion injuries if the ergonomics standard was allowed to stand. The agency estimated repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendentitis, cost employers as much as $20 billion per year in workers' compensation costs, and estimated total savings from the standard would amount to $9.1 billion per year. It was not to be."   continued ...   (Via Occupational Hazards)

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