The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) submitted its comments to OSHA on the proposed ergonomics standard.
While AAOHN said it is pleased the proposal has been released for public comment, the association has significant concerns about the proposed standard.
According to AAOHN President Deborah DiBenedetto, "This proposal is far-reaching and includes provisions that will be difficult for companies to implement and understand. AAOHN is especially concerned that the standard is not triggered until someone is injured."
Since the standard includes a "covered musculoskeletal disorder" (MSD) as a trigger, it has the potential to affect all jobs in general industry.
At the same time, AAOHN is concerned because the standard leaves many jobs in other industries, such as construction, unprotected.
Likewise, the organization is concerned that the standard, in its current form, would allow unqualified individuals to perform health assessments to determine whether a work-related MSD has occurred.
AAOHN believes a qualified health care professional should be the one to evaluate the worker's injury and to follow up on the employee's treatment.
AAOHN is also finds the work restriction protection (WRP) provisions problematic.
The group noted that these provisions are in direct conflict with state workers' compensation statutes and may set up discriminatory practices for other work-related injuries.
"We support development of a standard to protect workers and businesses from the debilitating costs of ergonomic-related injuries," said DiBenedetto. "However, the association submitted its comments in an effort to contribute to an ergonomic standard that is protective of workers and still reasonable for businesses to implement."
The full text of AAOHN's comments on the proposed standard are available on its Web site at www.aaohn.org