Rule would reduce feds' aches and pains
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Nov 13, 2000
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to issue a final
rule today on a program designed to reduce work-related physical disorders
that are caused from poorly designed work spaces.
The ergonomics rule, which would go into effect in January, applies to virtually
all general industry employers, including federal agencies. OSHA wants to
reduce the injuries associated with such things as typing on a computer
keyboard all day or repeatedly pushing or pulling heavy boxes.
The rule will require employers with manufacturing and manual handling jobs
to implement a basic ergonomics program. This would include assigning someone
to be responsible for ergonomics and setting up a way for employees to report
signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders.
Employers would have to establish a more substantial ergonomics program
only if a worker gets hurt and the employer cannot fix the problem within
Industry has vehemently opposed the rule because it says implementation
will cost more than $14 billion a year. OSHA places the estimate at about
$4.5 billion a year.
No analysis has been made as to the federal government cost, but many agencies
have already issued adjustable computer keyboards and ergonomically correct
chairs, according to OSHA.
OSHA expects that the rule will protect about 102 million workers at
6.1 million work sites. It should prevent 4.6 million musculoskeletal disorders
in the first 10 years, according to OSHA.