MSD Regulations Are DOA

Well it looks like the United States Congress has effectively killed OSHA's latest regulatory intrusion into an estimated 6. 1 million work sites across the country.

Columns From: 4/1/2001 Modern Machine Shop, ,

Well it looks like the United States Congress has effectively killed OSHA's latest regulatory intrusion into an estimated 6.1 million work sites across the country. I'm talking about a new and comprehensive set of rules, regulations and penalties that deal with workplace ergonomics, specifically targeting repetitive motion injuries. The regulations went into effect on January 16 and enforcement was scheduled to begin on October 14.

OSHA's newest efforts deal with workplace ergonomics, which is about the science of designing and positioning equipment handled by people to reduce their fatigue and discomfort. The resulting injuries from poor ergonomics are generally grouped together as MSD (musculoskeletal disorders) and RSI (repetitive stress injuries). These categories include the much publicized carpal-tunnel syndrome. Reducing these types of injuries motivated the regulators.

Kudos should go to OSHA for their concern. And like the regulators, I am against repetitive motion injuries. Actually, I am against any injuries. They're bad all the way around. Moreover, I'm hard pressed to find anyone who favors MSD, RIA, being crushed or even being mangled at the workplace.

What's unfortunate about these OSHA regulations is that they were poorly written and not very practical with an undue burden for compliance put on small and medium sized businesses who can least afford the estimated $800 per employee cost. Congress acknowledged this by overturning the regulations.

Needless to say, the carping has begun from those who favor any and all intrusion by government into business, regardless of the impact. My opinion is that Congress is correct in exercising its right to render these rules void. However, in our polarized environment, I'm sure to be tarred as being anti-labor for supporting repeal of these rules. I'm not anti-labor. Actually, I am labor. But I also realize that my ability to sell my labor is contingent on having healthy businesses that can afford to hire me.

What OSHA and the regulation crowd forget is employees are assets to companies. It is not in the interest of any business to jeopardize its assets. No doubt the regulators will be back with a revised plan. We dodged the bullet this time, but rest assured the lull is only to give time for re-loading. Perhaps, a new plan will include a better understanding of the contemporary relationship between most employers and their employees. It's always wrong to hurt the many in an effort to control the few.

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