OSHA's New Ergonomics Plan

GSE Business Focus

OSHA's New Ergonomics Plan

By Michelle Garetson

May 2002

OSHA's New Ergonomics PlanIndustry should be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently unveiled a comprehensive plan designed to dramatically reduce ergonomic injuries through a combination of industry-targeted guidelines and tough enforcement measures, as well as the appointing of a national advisory committee.

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw said his agency will immediately begin work on developing industry and task-specific guidelines to reduce and prevent workplace ergonomic injuries, often called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). OSHA expects to begin releasing guidelines ready for application in selected industries this year, but encourages businesses and industries to immediately develop additional guidelines of their own.

Also, OSHA will have an enforcement plan designed from the start to target prosecutable ergonomic violations. Special ergonomics inspection teams will work closely with DOL attorneys and experts to successfully bring prosecutions under the General Duty clause.

This new plan also calls for compliance assistance tools and OSHA will provide specialized training and information on guidelines and compliance tools as well as how to implement ergonomics programs. It will also administer targeted training grants.

The new plan was announced barely a year after Republicans and Democrats in Congress rejected the previous Administration's rule, which was broadly denounced as being excessively burdensome and complicated.