In its comment letter to OSHA, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) said it strongly supports the agency's ergonomics standard proposal, but like many other organizations, offered improvements in a number of areas.
"Ergonomics programs such as the one OSHA has proposed do work. AIHA strongly supports the proposal and offers comments in order to improve it," said AIHA President Jim Thornton.
With regards to coverage of the proposed standard, AIHA said it supports extending future coverage to the construction, agriculture and maritime industries, or at least certain aspects, such as management commitment and training.
AIHA supports the concept of the "quick fix" as an inexpensive and expedient way to correct problem jobs and the fundamental performance-related elements of the proposed standard.
The group is also in favor of worker restriction protection. "Workers should be treated fairly and consistently if they sustain a work-related musculoskeletal injury; and workers should neither be financially rewarded nor punished for reporting an MSD injury or illness," AIHA said in its comments.
In criticism, AIHA expressed that it feels the grandfather clause is loosely defined, meaning that even if an employer had a good ergonomics program in place, it would be difficult to know that it met the state requirement.
The association suggested that OSHA be more specific on what constitutes an equivalent program so that mediocre programs do not pass compliance, but programs showing improvements will have a reasonable chance to be considered acceptable.
AIHA also suggested that employees receive more training on hazard awareness initially so they can be active participants in the program and recognize problems before injuries occur.
A copy of the AIHA's entire letter to OSHA can be viewed at www.aiha.org, under Government Affairs.