Business Weighing In Against Federal Ergonomics Proposal


BULLETIN -- BULLETIN -- BULLETIN CAL-OSHA REPORTER
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FLASH REPORT // Wednesday, February 24, 1998

A report on breaking news about occupational safety and health in California, provided as news of significance develops.

FLASH REPORT: Business Weighing In Against Federal Ergonomics Proposal Fed-OSHA has given the country a glimpse of what it has in mind for a federal ergonomics standard - and California business appears unimpressed. The agency released a working draft of its proposed standard Feb. 19. The formal proposal is expected to be published in September. Fed-OSHA has fought for years to get a standard in place, only to be rebuffed by the business community, as well as Congress.

Fed-OSHA released the working draft to fulfill requirements of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, but the agency has circulated the document widely "because of the importance of the issue of ergnomics." The standard would apply to manufacturing or manual handling operations and workplaces where work-related musculoskeletal disorders are reported. The maritime, construction and agricultural industries would be exempt from the standard. It would require covered businesses to implement a six-part ergnomics program.

If the ultimate standard is stricter than California's recently enacted ergnomics standard, the state would have to amend its regulations accordingly. The California Chamber of Commerce has weighed in against the proposal as it now reads. "It's going to drive up costs," said Julianne Broyles, director of insurance and employee relations for the chamber. The organization complains that the proposal doesn't have a small-business exemption, creates more paperwork and force businesses to pay full salary and benefits to injured workers, among other things.

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Cal-OSHA Reporter Flash Reports are written by Kevin Thompson (KThompson@Cal-OSHA.com) and/or Ellen Denmead (EDenmead@Cal-OSHA.com). Voice: 510-845-8300; fax: 510-845-2800 (Berkeley, CA). They are provided to subscribers of our free Electronic Summary Edition at no cost. Technical support is provided by Data Control Corporation, providers of Compline, the on-line X-Mod database, and Commanon Corporation, publishers of the Cal-OSHA Reporter and our sister publication the Workers' Comp Executive. Voice: 916-470-7000; fax: 916-470-7600 (Grass Valley, CA).

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