Well….the cat is out of the bag. All this time, American business has been worried about a new attempt by OSHA to create an Ergonomic specific regulation. Business organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce and others were lining up resources for another fight. Well folks….it looks like the ‘war’ was won without a single shot. Hidden in plain sight, is all the regulatory muscle OSHA needs; the general duty clause.
WHAT? Yes it’s true. During an April 7th web chat, Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab stressed that OSHA’s enforcement of ergonomic issues is a key strategic component, and will increase, noting that the general duty clause will be used to cite ergonomic violations. THE GENERAL DUTY CLAUSE. It’s not sexy or flashy….but this approach and regulation has teeth.
29 U.S.C. § 654, 5(a)1: Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
29 U.S.C. § 654, 5(a)2: Each employer shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this act.
29 U.S.C. § 654, 5(b): Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.
Couple the above general duty clause with the new column in the OSHA 300 log capturing Musculoskeletal Disorders in the workplace, and you can begin to see why an Ergonomic specific regulation might not be necessary!
Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels commented that,
OSHA’s field staff will be looking for ergonomic hazards in their inspections and we will be providing them with the support and back-up they need to enforce under the general duty clause. In addition, we will be examining employer logs to see if MSDs are accurately reported,” illustrating the increased emphasis on recordkeeping logs, during OSHA inspections. Michaels stated that OSHA plans to “take a hard look” at employer policies that discourage injury reporting.
You have to give OSHA leadership their ‘props’…the approach is an intelligent, common-sense approach. No big expensive fight. Apply the regs that are there….end of story.
What are your thoughts on OSHA’s new tact???? Agree or disagree??
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