National Safety Council Bows Out of Ergo Fight

The National Safety Council, an influential advocate of ergonomics regulations, has abandoned its role as promoter of a 13-year old effort to produce ergonomics guidelines, according to the non-profit group’s officials. Many employer have targeted the NSC as their main enemy in efforts to thwart ergonomics regulations which they deem based on poor or faulty science. With the NSC no longer heavily

The National Safety Council, an influential advocate of ergonomics regulations, has abandoned its role as promoter of a 13-year old effort to produce ergonomics guidelines, according to the non-profit group’s officials.

Many employer have targeted the NSC as their main enemy in efforts to thwart ergonomics regulations which they deem based on poor or faulty science. With the NSC no longer heavily involved in the issue, employers may have an easier time shaping future regulations.

Alan McMillan, NSC’s president, said he searched for another group to take its place but has been unsuccessful. He would not elaborate on why NSC bowed out of the fight but observers suggest that lack of resources may have been an issue.

In the past, employers have complained that the NSC, which had crafted proposed regulations for the American National Standards Institute, was biased and unfair in its work. ANSI certifies consensus standards on many different industrial issues and its ergonomics committee had twice approved standards which industry rejected as too stringent and based on flawed science. Industry stakeholders took aim at the NSC for allegedly packing the committee with pro-regulation people and disregarding industry concerns.

The Congress after President Bush took office killed ergonomics regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration. In response, OSHA began writing industry-specific voluntary rules. Industry stakeholders complain that ANSI certified guidelines can be a powerful but misused tool for OSHA in its effort to protect workers from unsafe working conditions.

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