Opponents Charge Ergo Rule Unreasonable

In its formal comments submitted to OSHA, the National Coalition on Ergonomics charges that the proposed ergonomics standard is 'unreasonable' and 'unworkable.'

OSHA's proposed ergonomics regulation reaches conclusions that no reasonable person would find, charged the National Coalition on Ergonomics (NCE) in formal comments submitted to the agency.

"OSHA's fix for ergonomics is beyond comprehension," said Ed Gilroy, co-chair of NCE, which represents employers from every sector of American business.

In reference to the coalition's comments, Gilroy added, "Looking at the data and the record as a whole, there is no way any reasonable person could agree with OSHA's contention that there is scientific, legal or public policy justification for the agency's proposed ergonomics rule."

The NCE's formal comments blasted OSHA's ergonomics proposal saying, "its requirements are subjective and ambiguous, assuring that an employer could never achieve compliance because, in all of its more than 1,000 pages, not a single proven solution is provided."

The coalition has long supported safety and health programs, but in OSHA's proposed ergonomics regulation, the NCE only sees a costly experiment that fails to assure the prevention of injuries.

"Nothing is the proposed regulation assures prevention of even one injury," said Gilroy. "The only assurance is that it is the most expensive regulation ever proposed by OSHA. Even the agency admits its estimates are the highest costs ever proposed and we think those estimates are unrealistically low."

According to OSHA, the cost of the regulation is estimated to be $4.2 billion.

The NCE pointed out that a review of OSHA's economic analysis by the National Economic Research Associates found, "OSHA has understated control costs, overstated productivity gains, and overstated the effectiveness of job control interventions."

Additionally, Food Distributors International, a trade organization representing grocery distribution centers, estimates the cost of the regulation to its industry alone at $26 billion the first year with recurring annual costs of $6 billion.

In its written comments, the NCE also charged that OSHA is using this rulemaking process as an unlawful subterfuge to avoid responsibility of proving that work is the direct and sole cause of these conditions and that there are workplace solutions to prevent them.

"OSHA has decreed -- without scientific foundation -- that all of these ailments are work-related unless the employer can prove otherwise," said Gilroy. "The result is a regulatory monstrosity that would hurt businesses without the certainty of helping employees."

The NCE's formal comments will be placed on the group's Web site at www.ncergo.org

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