March 1, 2000
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Attn: Mr. Charles Jeffress, Assistant Secretary of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW (S.2315)
Washington, DC 20210
OSHA PROPOSED ERGONOMICS STANDARD
[Docket No. S-777, RIN No. 1218-AB36]
Assistant Secretary Jeffress:
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), on behalf of its nearly
33,000 members, submits the following comments concerning OSHA's proposed
Ergonomic Program Rule, (64 Federal Register, 65768 11/23/99).
Enclosed are a series of documents along with this statement which are
requested to be officially made part of the docket. ASSE's review of the
proposed standard indicates that even though some changes have been made,
its content and tenets are still consistent with the original February,
1999 working draft. Thus, the ASSE June, 1999 comments are still highly
relevant to this proposal. The enclosed documents include:
- ASSE June, 1999 Correspondence on the OSHA Working Draft
- ASSE June, 1999 Counter Proposal to the OSHA Ergonomics Working Proposed
- National Registry of Safety Professionals and Other Registrants
- Background Information of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals
ASSE Perspective Regarding The Proposed Rule
A major element of the Society's mission is to support sound regulatory
actions based on good science and resulting knowledge and actions which
enable the development of effective safety and health standards designed
to facilitate the identification and control of hazardous conditions and
practices. From such standards, hazard control methods, procedures, and
programs are initiated to promote positive and pro-active approaches to
safety and health. An integral element of these techniques is quality
training and educational requirements, which communicate the necessary
hazard recognition, control, and avoidance information. This methodology,
when properly implemented, has the potential to effectively reduce our
nation's workplace injury and illness toll. ASSE takes the following stance
concurring promulgation of a mandatory ergonomics standard:
We commend the Agency for their efforts to develop a standard addressing
a significant problem in today's working environments. ASSE wants to be
clear about our view of the need for a functional ergonomic standard.
We reaffirm our support for many of the technical elements of the proposal,
particularly those which follow elements found in the "red meat" guidance
document. However, there is a concern that the end result of the debates
and other potential actions relating to the proposal will result in the
rejection of the entire standard. Such a result will most impact employees,
the very people the proposal intends to protect.
ASSE perceives the proposal falling short of its original goals of sound
science, adaptability for small employers, utilization of safety and health
professionals, and creates an over-reliance on the role of health care
providers and employees. The Preamble attempts to mandate and mandate
too much responsibility on both employers and employees. Through the use
of select sections, such as Quick Fix and Grandfathering, the Agency maintains
the proposed standard does not pose an unusual burden upon the private
sector, and thus, by default upon safety and health professionals. In
reality the proposal is actually casting a wide net of adverse responsibility
on the private sector and consequently on our members. These issues are
of great concern as we recognize the measure of performance will be how
compliance program managers decide to interpret and enforce the eventual
standard, not what the authors indicate they meant. Another issue is the
capability of compliance officers to accurately measure and understand
the programs at the sites they visit. While many ergonomic solutions can
be considered logical and evident, those situations requiring critical
analysis and innovative solutions may not be understood by the untrained
observer. For these reasons a logical, clearly stated document that employers,
employees, safety professionals, and compliance officers can understand
is the best public policy.
Specific aspects of the proposal may force safety professionals into
a no-win regulatory situation regarding injury causation that is currently
adequately handled by state workers' compensation statutes. During the
draft comment period ASSE commented extensively about OSHA's February,
1999 draft proposal. We concluded the original proposal was much easier
to understand than the current document. While OSHA's draft was a reasonable
starting point, ASSE offered a counter-proposal which is again recommended
to the Agency. The ASSE counter-proposal remains a sound discussion document
that addresses the specifics of the safety related ergonomic issues employees
and employers face on a daily basis.
The most disquieting element of the current proposal is its significant
departure from previous standards making. This proposal leans heavily
toward correcting issues that should be properly addressed by revising
29 CFR, Part1904, if incident reporting is a real issue, or, if wages
are an issue, by Wage and Hour standards applications. ASSE sees the proposal
potentially diminishing the abilities of safety and health professionals
and practitioners to address actual hazards and exposures in the workplace.
The proposed standard will over-focus employers on this issue, to the
exclusion of more important hazards and exposures as well as putting safety
professionals at odds with employers and employees as they are forced
to address social issues instead of safety issues.
Conclusions of ASSE's perspectives:
- ASSE supports the development of a stand-alone ergonomic standard.
This standard should be performance oriented. It should be applicable
to all employers and describe the basic tenets and best practices necessary
for successfully developing and managing an effective ergonomic program.
The standard needs to be supported by a cohesive outreach effort melding
the resources of OSHA, business associations, professional societies
and academia. Such a program can be supported by other positive reinforcement
actions such as penalty reductions for good faith efforts by employers;
or, because of the significant anticipated costs to employers, granting
tax credits for the creation/maintenance of an acceptable program.
- The establishment of basic ergonomic management programs and increasing
employee awareness and involvement on these issues is not a burden to
employers when compared to other safety and health compliance requirements.
In fact, most efficient and effective ergonomic initiatives will usually
"dovetail" with other existing safety and health programs.
- ASSE believes there is science justifying the creation of such a standard.
ASSE accepts that the National Academy of Science (NAS) ergonomics study
released two years ago indicated an overriding basis for an ergonomic
standard. However, ASSE supports enhancing the knowledge base through
continued research into the causation, identification, and prevention
of ergonomic injuries.
ASSE Key Concerns With This Initiative
There are many ASSE members with cutting-edge ergonomic programs in effect.
Member provided data and anecdotal information indicates that these programs
have led to significant decreases in the numbers of workplace musculoskeletal
disorders (WMSDs). While OSHA's dedication to reducing workplace injuries,
illnesses, and fatalities is well recognized, careful analysis will show
that the proposed standard may not have the expected positive impact on
the reduction of WMSDs in the workplace. Consequently OSHA should review
the June 1999 ASSE counter proposal which offers a more reasonable and
user friendly approach to the control of WMSDs and ergonomic exposures
than the current proposed rule. There is a need to cull out of the proposal,
from a sound scientific standpoint, those provisions that will diminish
the effectiveness of the standard.
Realistically OSHA should start over again and use the ASSE counterproposal
as the basis for a reasonable working standard. It is important that OSHA
consider a more incremental approach to the ergonomics issue. If the ASSE
counterproposal is not acceptable to OSHA, perhaps the Agency could promulgate
a regulation addressing lifting and back injuries followed by other WMSD
standards/regulations. Another possibility would be to utilize the Meat
Packing Guidelines as a basic approach that can later be strengthened
as the Agency obtains more scientific and technical data and other information
on effective WMSD intervention controls.
ASSE notes that some of the recommendations and suggestions of its original
June 1999 comments to OSHA were incorporated into the current version
of the proposed rule. Although we appreciate OSHA's responsiveness, this
standard still encompasses requirements that are not reflective of sound
public policy. To this end, the following issues must be resolved by OSHA
before the standard is finalized:
Unnecessary Resistance to the Standard
Hundreds of ASSE members have contacted the Society in support of an ergonomics
standard. But, there is consensus that some sections of the proposal,
(e.g., the work restriction program resulting in unwarranted expense)
will generate unneeded resistance. There is concern within ASSE that the
current proposal could very well result in throwing the baby out with
the bath water.
There is equal concern about the apparent social engineering agenda
contained in the document which overshadows the prevention aspects of
the proposal. Although an ergonomics standard is needed, if the Agency's
proposal is defeated, we fear there might not be another opportunity in
the foreseeable future to try again. We urge OSHA to propose a more reasonable
standard which enhances occupational safety and health, and leaves the
issue of payment for rehabilitation, social issues and workers' compensation
reengineering to the existing federal and state laws and regulations governing
WMSD Versus MSD
ASSE questions why OSHA stopped using the term WMSD (workplace muscular
skeletal disorder) and substituted MSD (muscular skeletal disorder). It
is important that the standard specifically recognize that the rule will
only address workplace ergonomic issues, and recommend that OSHA use the
term WMSD to make this differentiation. This proposal will create the
situation where safety professionals, on behalf of their employers, coworkers,
clients, and associates, will spend significant time and resources to
address, manage, and control MSDs that have nothing to do with the workplace.
In addition, the definition and symptoms of an MSD are consistent with
those described in medical science books addressing exercise and sports
activity overexertion, thus, encouraging the reporting of injuries that
have nothing to do with workplace exposures and hazards. The proposed
standard and the resulting real and implied responsibilities ascribed
to safety and health professionals and practitioners will lead to unwarranted
OSHA citations and penalties, criminal sanctions (if the standard of compliance
equals a health standard,) and lawsuits.
The original 1998/1999 working draft was a much more reasonable and understandable
standard than the current proposal. Virtually every ASSE member who reviewed
the working document in February 1999 commented that the format of the
original proposal was easy to follow and understand. Such an approach
would have been beneficial to small businesses or other business entities
that do not have a safety professional on-staff or have access to a knowledgeable
consultant. However, there is now a consensus that the current draft is
a significant regression from the 1998/1999 document. The proposed rule
is cumbersome, confusing, and unclear. The Society has been reviewing
the document since it was published and still find it unclear as to what
the standard actually requires for 1) a workplace ergonomic program, 2)
the standard of proof to establish the program, and 3) how the worker
restriction/payment portions of standard will do anything to prevent WMSDs.
The Preamble is very confusing and mainly consists of OSHA's justification
for the proposed rule, (specifically the material on workers restriction
program). A detailed review of worker compensation statutes is irrelevant
to such a standard. All of the justification language should be eliminated
from the preamble, and if used at all, be included as non-mandatory appendix
for those who would have interest in reading it. The preamble should explain
the intent of the standard, provide employer and employee comment and
OSHA's reaction to such comments, provide interpretations, offer insights
to future enforcement mechanisms, and provide technical insight on the
standard itself. As drafted however, the Preamble fails to adequately
explain these areas, and instead, is dedicated to self-justification by
OSHA of the standard.
Loss of Focus on Overall Safety and Health
The structure of this standard will de-emphasize an overall efficient/effective
safety and health management program and shift the focus and resources
to that of compliance with the proposed ergonomic standard. A sound ergonomic
program should be part of an overall efficient/effective safety and health
program. It would be poor policy, and an unfortunate consequence, to allow
ergonomics to become the primary driver of a safety and health program.
Mechanization Versus Human Labor
ASSE strongly favors the establishment of a stand-alone ergonomic standard.
The Society has been dedicated to the protection of people, property,
and the environment since 1911, thus, protection of the worker is of paramount
importance to us. Our concern is that if the standard will not reduce
the number of WMSDs, and is considered to be unreasonable and unduly expensive,
it could encourage employers to eliminate permanent jobs and consider
other alternatives such as using off-shore suppliers, increased mechanization
of the workplace, and changing work practices/procedures to reduce its
Since the proposed rule was published in November 1999 we have received
many calls from members working in the insurance industry or consulting
asking for cost/benefit information on the proposal. There are increasing
attempts by companies to correlate the financial impact of the standard
with that of mechanizing specific job functions, (e.g. instead of paying
a worker to run a shrink-wrap machine, will the standard now make it more
economically feasible to move it off-shore).
Safety Standard - Not a Health Standard
There is significant disagreement with the OSHA position that ergonomics
is a health issue and that the rule should be promulgated as a health
standard. Most cumulative trauma disorder is the result of soft tissue
damage, consequently this a workplace injury issue. The standard should
be promulgated as a safety standard. If an employee had a soft tissue
injury in the workplace due to a "pinching" incident, the relevant safety
standards would be applicable. Why are soft tissue ergonomic injuries
being treated in a different manner when it would be more consistent with
OSHA policy to process this initiative as a safety standard.
ASSE supports the intent of the Quick Fix provision. However, we are puzzled
why OSHA thinks an employer will know in four months whether or not the
control method has worked. If the incident involves one worker, and that
worker is part of worker restriction program, then the worker may not
be part of the process to eliminate the WMSD. Under the OSHA scenario
it is possible the employer would have to correct a WMSD exposure without
having the key players involved. There needs to be a longer intervention
period. A minimum of nine months seems more realistic.
Responsible Person Concept
The apparent intent of this concept is to promote a team approach to ergonomic
programs and establish some documented levels of responsibility. However,
the proposed standard seeks to identify specific individuals to be responsible
for the establishment of programs and the initiation of corrective action.
In many cases, these employees will be the staff safety professional or
perhaps third-party consultants. The primary mission of the safety professional
is to provide information to management supported by good science and
sound technology. ASSE's concern is that during implementation and interpretation
of the standard, OSHA could hold safety professionals responsible for
workplace ergonomic issues beyond their control. Clarification is needed
on the following issues:
- Would prompt communication of identification of hazards and suggested
courses of action or corrections to responsible management leadership,
by safety professionals, meet the intent of the standard?
- Would a safety professional be potentially held personally liable
under the Occupational Safety and Health Act if his/her suggested corrective
action was not taken and the result was an ergonomic injury to an employee?
- What would be the tort liability of safety professionals arising from
workplace ergonomic injuries?
- When will OSHA provide rationale in its Preface/Preamble addressing
these concerns and clarifying the exposures of the "responsible person"
- Will, and if not why not, the language of the standard provide such
a shield for the safety professional is his or her assigned staff/non-employer
One Case Trigger
ASSE believes that retention of the "one case" trigger cannot be substantiated
by accepted recognized practices and procedures regularly employed in
the safety profession. While we acknowledge the "one case" trigger may
not necessarily require the implementation of the standard, this requirement
is a "lightning rod" for resistance by employers. This specific section
is not supported by good science and sound technology as one case of a
WMSD is simply not indicative of systemic problems. Finally, this provision
is confusing and appears to be a stutter step approach to addressing an
issue which other standards make much easier.
One of the biggest issues to our members is determining when an ergonomic
injury is work-related. The workplace ergonomic analysis provisions of
the proposed rule are designed to address this issue, but such analyses
often reach unclear and disputed conclusions. Many ergonomic problems
arise off-the-job, and in the absence of a clear triggering incident,
getting at the root cause is extremely problematic. If the cause is not
in the workplace, trying to fix the workplace will not reduce or eliminate
injuries. Thus, we see the "one case" trigger as being poor policy. OSHA
has heard this point repeatedly from ASSE and other stakeholders, however,
we hope it will not be again ignored. Small Business Issues
There is insufficient information to enable the small business owner or
operator to understand the ergonomics issue and the proposed standard.
ASSE is at a loss to see how a small business entity without specialized
training will be able to use the standard to prevent WMSDs. The original
draft was much more understandable to small business, whereas the new
proposal will be considered by most of them to be virtually incomprehensible.
Work Restriction Program
This standard must not establish the tenet of irrefutable presumption
of guilt, a presumption of guilt that our members will be forced to address,
manage, and try to control. In some industries this issue might not arise,
but this standard will impact much less obvious cases that cannot be readily
resolved through root cause analysis. It could lead to the creation of
an OSHA equivalent to Superfund that would only lead to an endless and
expensive rise in the rates of litigation. This issue is perhaps summarized
by the question - - when is a potential or existing ergonomic hazard permanently
We believe the Work Restriction Protection provision will have a significantly
negative impact on the different state worker compensation systems. The
long term impact of such a policy will be the placement of adverse burdens
on safety professionals, and their employers, clients, and workers they
are bound professionally to protect. As OSHA improperly makes an assumption
that any MSD is work-related, the potential result of this policy could
be to mire safety professionals in trying to manage worksite fixes to
address a series of open-ended medical situations unrelated to actual
workplace hazards or incidents.
The OSHA analysis, included in the Preamble addressing this issue, remains
vague and unresolved. We understand it to say that while injuries, in
general, are decreasing and similar decreases are experienced with physical
stress, strain and sprain, (reference Liberty Mutual and BLS data) OSHA
believes there is significant underreporting of ergonomic injuries. It
appears OSHA believes this is occurring only with ergonomic injury. Such
a scenario seems inconsistent with history and even the Agency's own statements.
Also, OSHA's own survey of employer recordkeeping accuracy showed that
the overwhelming majority of employers do report accurately.
The proposed rule also would provide employees with time off of work
at 90% pay after taxes. The proposed rule, in effect, will provide a pay
raise to those who are not at work since there will not be any commuting
cost or other expenses associated with going to work. With the entire
country moving toward efficient and effective rehabilitation of workers
through improved medical management systems, why is the Agency would pursuing
a policy which encourages a person to stay home?
This section (WRP) should be removed in its entirety. The objective
of OSHA is to prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. It is not to
address how individuals are compensated during rehabilitation. There are
already a whole series of federal and state laws addressing this issue.
ASSE is convinced these provisions will be fought out eventually in the
courts by industry organizations with OSHA's position not prevailing.
The grandfathering clause is functionally ineffective, particularly for
the small employer since the program must still be equivalent to what
OSHA requires. The grandfathering concept is too vague. Based upon previous
experience, compliance officers may enforce the standard in an arbitrary
manner due to lack of training, certification, and experience. Such deficiencies
could lead to chaos through different interpretations of whether hazards
and exposures are limited to a given case. ASSE members and safety professionals
who have already established ergo programs may have to jump through many
hoops to convince a compliance officer that their program meets the requirements
of the standard. Finally, the standard of proof is going to present significant
Data and Cost Considerations
Careful review of the existing materials indicates that OSHA has not provided
accurate case cost data. The Agency has significantly underestimated the
costs necessary to implement and maintain the standard. As an example,
while it appears that OSHA is planning on selective enforcement, the Agency
is trying to give the perception that ergonomic evaluation and controls
are not that difficult to understand and implement. However, ergonomics
and cumulative trauma disorders are very complicated technical issues.
Has OSHA conducted any studies or research on how many business people
can work the NIOSH Lifting Formula for a multiple step lift with a twisting
action in it? While the NIOSH formula, Snook and Cirello tables, and RULA
are specifically referenced in the Preamble, we do not believe that the
typical business person will able to learn all of this in the hour of
training allotted in the Preamble's cost assessment. However, later on
in the Preamble OSHA discusses how more training may be necessary depending
upon the specifics of the operation. This issue needs to be addressed
more thoroughly to avoid additional legal challenges related to the economic
feasibility and the Agency's compliance with Regulatory Flexibility Act
The standard will surely trigger a significant need for trained safety
professionals. However, ASSE was distressed to learn that OSHA does not
recognize the importance of using competent safety and health professionals
and qualified consultants to conduct or direct ergonomic programs. OSHA
should encourage employers to use staff safety professionals, or contract
with those safety professionals who have the competence and expertise
to conduct ergonomic related activities.
A historical concern of ASSE is that the safety profession is heavily
regulated in regard to how a function/practice is to be conducted, but,
there has been little if any guidance addressing the level of competence
of those who perform these activities. OSHA may have to define the competence
of safety professionals in the future as related to its proposed standards.
ASSE stands ready to assist when this issue arises. The Society has advocated
professional competence for almost ninety (90) years. Accordingly, we
have the resources, expertise, and history to assist with this issue,
(e.g. ANSI Z590 proposed rule, National Registry of Safety Professionals
and Other Registrants, introduction of legislation defining competence
in numerous states).
Third Party and Record Confidentiality
ASSE is very concerned that OSHA believes the establishment of an ergonomic
program can be justified through hazards identified in an insurance audit
or consultant's report. This infers that consultant/insurance reports
must be made available to a compliance officer during an inspection. We
suggest an approach to that introduced in the 1997 version of the SAFEAct,
where an administrative law judge would decide based on an in-camera-review
whether the Agency's request for consultants' audit reports is warranted.
ASSE further notes:
- OSHA would base the establishment of a program on the report of a
consultant. OSHA has opposed the use of consultants for voluntary third
party audits and evaluations and has criticized their level of integrity,
knowledge, and ability. However, in this case OSHA would deem the report
of a consultant as authoritative when deciding whether or not an ergonomics
program must be implemented. We find these positions to be inconsistent,
and request clarification. If OSHA mistrusts safety and health consultants
to such a degree as it previously expressed in Congressional hearings,
why would the Agency now take their reports as gospel for the sake of
enforcing this standard.
- OSHA must ensure some privacy for consultant/insurance reports in
order to motivate employers to take viable action to foster a safe and
- ASSE believes that ensuring privacy for consultant/insurance reports
increases the level of responsibility that the private sector will take
for the safety of its workforce.
- Ensuring privacy of consultant/insurance reports encourages accurate
recordkeeping. Having accurate data is a key component in identifying
potential or latent workplace hazards.
There are still a significant number of employers in the United States
who do not have ergonomic programs. Thus, the creation of this standard
could place a renewed national focus on the importance of ergonomic management
programs. If/when the standard is promulgated, there is little question
that assistance in creating and maintaining efficient/effective ergonomic
management programs will be needed. The needed level of expertise is beyond
the skills of many companies not employing on-staff safety professionals.
In order to meet the expected need of consultation services, OSHA should
consider reviewing a pilot program for voluntary third party ergonomic
audit and evaluations, and work with the accredited private sector professional
certification bodies, public and private recognized registries, and with
credible/professional membership organizations to help ensure that consultants
have an acceptable level of competence. We think the private sector might
be more willing to accept the tenets of a standard if there were an employer
support process similar to the one proposed in the SAFEAct.
OSHA believes that the employee may be the best person to recommend changes
to their job. However, it is true only if employees are well trained and
have accessible guidance. The experience of ASSE's members (who perform
thousands of ergonomic consultations per year) is that even employees
who have been well trained miss very important issues when dealing with
a multi-factorial problem, which most ergonomic issues are.
While there needs to be a section in the standard addressing employee
involvement, we are concerned that the philosophy of the proposed standard
is not consistent with most business environments. Most working environments
include employee communication at some level in the work process. While
there clearly needs to be language in the standard including employees,
the tone and mandates of the standard lead us to question the intent of
OSHA. The Agency has written a standard which addresses a 1930's management
philosophy. ASSE suggests that there should be employee participation
language similar to the February 1999 working draft, which included employee
involvement but did not bog the document down with unneeded and unclear
Employee involvement is a great asset to a program, and it needs to
be emphasized. However, it must remain in balance with management accountability.
While ASSE generally tries not to comment on employer/employee relations
issues, the standard places too much emphasis on employee involvement
to the point of having employees control the ergonomics programs. This
imbalance could improperly shift OSHA's role from a safety and health
enforcement agency to a reviewer of employee/employer relations programs.
The relationship of employees to employers is a subject central to the
Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA Act). The OSHA Act encourages
employers and employees to jointly work to reduce the number of hazards
in the workplace. It should stimulate employers and employees to institute
and perfect safety programs. ASSE questions the ultimate intent of the
emphasis on employee involvement. We cannot understand, nor rationalize
a skewed emphasis which apparently goes well beyond a beneficial relationship
between employers and employees.
Health Care Professionals
There is great and good concern that the proposed rule allows health care
professionals to provide ergonomic consultations in the workplace regardless
of their occupational safety and health professional background. In fact,
OSHA's belief that it is important to single out healthcare professionals
as being qualified to perform ergonomic evaluations, and not recognize
safety professionals or industrial hygienists in the proposal is poor
public policy and is indefensible.
The proposed standard appears to allow health care professionals unfettered
access to the workspace. It seems the opinions of health care professionals
are virtually unquestionable. The proposal also specifically recognizes
they have the opportunity to suggest workplace changes. While some health
care providers are qualified to provide such consultation, many others
lack the background, experience, or technical education to provide such
consultation. Including health care professionals, carte-blanche, does
not make sense from any perspective and we vigorously oppose this provision.
There is an urgent need for OSHA to look at the issue of credentials for
those professionals qualified to perform ergonomic evaluations.
Comments in the Preamble would indicate that some employers, particularly
in rural areas, are more concerned with access to health professionals
(doctors, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners,) and not as concerned
with the qualifications of such providers. As OSHA has focused on the
importance of health in this standard, ASSE is perplexed that the Agency
apparently is not calling for a higher level of knowledge and competency
for those health care professionals listed as qualified to administer
to injured workers.
A significant portion of the proposal is dedicated to the importance of
training. Significantly, the Society is the secretariat of the accredited
American National Standards (ANSI) project titled; Z490, Criteria for
Best Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training. This standard
is a work in progress which, when created/approved, will have significant
impact on safety, health, and environmental training and federal/state
legislation and regulation impacting such training. The Morella Amendment
to the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 requires
that national voluntary consensus be considered for implementation during
formal rule making. Most importantly, OSHA has a representative on the
Z490 committee creating the proposed rule, and we recommend that the agency
consider recognizing/citing the standard in the rule after it is approved
through the ANSI process.
- ASSE appreciates the additional thirty (30) days to extend the public
comment period. However, we are concerned by the OSHA position that
only those stakeholders who arranged to physically testify may submit
additional comments to rebut statements made in the public hearings.
OSHA leadership also stated a policy that interested parties can send
his/her own personal comments to their respective associations/societies
for submission to the record, if the organization chose to testify at
one of the public hearings. This policy will force organizations like
ASSE to do one of two things. ASSE must either submit comments that
the Society does not agree with from a philosophical/technical perspective,
or there will be a screening of views and comments from interested stakeholders.
This is poor public policy. The general public should be able to send
in a rebuttal comment to any statement entered into the record during
- If an employer worksite has one WMSD occur in several different jobs,
it appears that the standard requires that the employer "attack" all
of these problem jobs at once. This issue becomes significant since
it impact draws away resources from other important safety and health
initiatives to meet the requirements of this standard.
- ASSE supports involving employees in a workplace ergonomic program.
However, ASSE also concern that the Agency is trying to use this standard
in an attempt to prohibit traditional safety incentive programs. We
recommend that the language proposed in the regulation not be used to
prohibit traditional safety incentive programs. ASSE defines such programs
as those activities which are part of a broader safety and health initiative
and are in place to enhance the program and procedures, not merely as
a focus on "accident reduction." Compliance officers need to be trained
to recognize the distinctions between effective incentive programs which
are part of a broader safety and health program, and not simply serving
as the entire program or the primary element of it. Incentive programs
must emphasize accurate reporting of work-related injuries/illnesses
irrespective of the effect on the incentive program award status.
- While ASSE had the opportunity to provide insight to OSHA on the ergonomics
issue through stakeholder meetings and correspondence, the proposed
standard was circulated to organizations prior to its publication in
the Federal Register. All stakeholders should have equal opportunity
to provide insight on this proposed rule under the usual and prescribed
rules of public notification.
- The "IS/IS NOT" tables of Manual Handling Jobs and Manufacturing Jobs,
in the Definitions Section, appear reasonable and should be retained
We hope our comments will be of assistance to OSHA. This proposed standard
can be of significant benefit to employees, employers, professional safety
and health organizations, and the country overall if/when finalized. ASSE
will continue to support OSHA in the creation of a feasible ergonomic
standard, based on good science and sound technology, which will benefit
all stakeholders. We thank you for your attention to this matter, and
if we can be of assistance please feel free to contact the Society.
Frank H. Perry, CSP, PE
Society President, 1999-2000
Copy To: ASSE Board of Directors
Council on Professional Affairs
Governmental Affairs Committee
Testimony of American Society
of Safety Engineers on the Matter of: Department of Labor, U.S. Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (04/21/00)
ASSE Formal Ergonomics Testimony
ASSE Update on the OSHA Ergonomic
Draft Standard Update (1/00)
ASSE Request for Comment
Period Extension - OSHA Ergonomic Draft Standard (12/99)
ASSE Statement on the OSHA
Proposed Ergonomic Program Standard (5/99)
ASSE Position Statement on
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