Los Angeles Times Encourages Tougher State Ergonomics Standards
A "safer, less painful workplace is still possible" in California, despite actions by federal lawmakers last week to "quas[h]" Clinton administration ergonomics regulations aimed at reducing repetitive stress injuries, a Los Angeles Times editorial states. Although California was the first state to require employers to take steps to prevent workplace injuries, the editorial notes that the state's rules still are "weak," particularly in comparison to the now-defunct federal rules. The editorial says that although "congressional votes were a slap in the face to millions of workers struggling with" work-related musculoskeletal disorders, there could be a "silver lining" if state officials "acknowledge the weakness of California's three-year-old rules, beef them up and bolster enforcement." To that end, the California Labor Federation has urged the state's Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to voluntarily match California's rules to the federal standards that "would have remained in effect had Congress not voted as it did last week." The editorial implores the board, which has 60 days to respond to the federation's request, to act upon it. The editorial also recommends that Gov. Gray Davis (D) fill two vacancies on the seven-member board with people "who understand that the price of a paycheck shouldn't be a lifetime of pain and crippling injuries" (Los Angeles Times, 3/15).