OSHA unveils ergonomics plan

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration unveiled an initiative to reduce ergonomic injuries through a combination of voluntary guidelines, stronger enforcement of existing rules and workplace outreach. The initiative comes barely a year after Congress rejected an ergonomics rule that had been in development for over eight years, but was broadly denounced as excessively burdensome to business.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration unveiled an initiative to reduce ergonomic injuries through a combination of voluntary guidelines, stronger enforcement of existing rules and workplace outreach.

The initiative comes barely a year after Congress rejected an ergonomics rule that had been in development for over eight years, but was broadly denounced as excessively burdensome to business.

According to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, the agency will begin work on developing industry and task-specific guidelines to reduce and prevent ergonomic injuries, often called musculoskeletal disorders, that occur in the workplace.

OSHA expects to begin releasing guidelines for selected industries this year. The agency will also encourage businesses to develop additional guidelines of their own.

The plan to improve enforcement will include a legal strategy designed for successful prosecution. Special emphasis will be placed on industries with serious ergonomics problems that OSHA and Dept. of Labor (DOL) attorneys have successfully addressed in prior cases.

The new ergonomics plan also calls for disseminating compliance assistance tools to help reduce ergonomic injuries in the workplace. OSHA will provide specialized training and information on implementing successful programs.

OSHA will also administer training grants, develop compliance assistance tools, and create a recognition program to highlight successful ergonomics injury-reduction efforts.

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