OSHA: New Ergonomic Regulations Could Cost Billions
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to issue new workplace regulations this month that would require many employers to adopt costly ergonomics programs to minimize the danger of repetitive-stress injuries, the New York Times reports. Clinton administration officials say the rules are cost-effective and would prevent as many as 95,000 workplace injuries per year, but critics argue that the rules are unnecessary and could cost employers up to $18 billion annually -- more than five times the first-year cost predicted by OSHA (Pear, 11/22). Under the regulations, all employers with workers who perform repetitive tasks, including health care workers who lift patients out of beds, reportedly must implement ergonomics training programs to increase employee awareness (Skrzycki, Washington Post, 11/22). Employers would have to implement ergonomics programs if even a few employees suffered job-related musculoskeletal disorders, such as sprains or hernias, and would be required to give full pay and benefits for up to six months to workers who were reassigned or removed from jobs as a result of such injuries. The public will have several months to comment on the rules before they take effect, but OSHA officials say the comments "will not derail the plan" (Times, 11/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.