In post ergonomic hearing comments filed with OSHA, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) outlined major concerns with the agency''s ergonomics proposal.
Although ASSE, an 89-year-old organization of safety professionals across the United States and the world, supports the need for a stand-alone ergonomics standard, it is concerned that as the rule now exists certain professions without ergonomic training would be responsible for implementing the ergonomic rule.
As the debate continues over federal efforts to finalize an ergonomic rule that would require 1.6 million employers to take steps to prevent injuries to workers, ASSE is asking that a clarification between safety and healthcare professionals be incorporated into the rule.
In addition, throughout the hearings held in Washington, D.C., and other cities, ASSE testified that there is a need for a stand-alone ergonomic standard, but raised concerns about the safety professional status, the one-case trigger and the payment process for rehabilitation.
The organization submitted a counter ergonomics draft standard to OSHA in June.
ASSE raised concern that OSHA has included health care professionals (HCP) virtually "en-masse" in the standard regardless of their overall limited background, training, education and experience in ergonomics.
"On several occasions we observed HCPs testifying about engineering controls even though it was apparent from the testimony that they had no idea of what they were testifying to," said ASSE President Samuel Gualardo. "This included HCP statements addressing workstation design and analysis, engineering aspects of job hazard analysis and HCPs as the ''hub'' of effective ergonomic intervention management programs."
One of ASSE''s primary concerns with the draft standard is that the verbiage explaining the proposed standard generally leaves the impression that HCPs are the preferred long-term choice for ergonomic consultations and evaluations.
"ASSE believes this approach is poor pubic policy and we will actively oppose its final promulgation in this format," said Gualardo. "Testimony delivered in the many hearings supports ASSE''s concern that the general public perceives HCPs as the primary professional responsible for the identification and mitigation of workplace musculoskeletal disorders. Such a perception is wrong and will be harmful to workers."
The deadline for filing comments on the proposed standard for the federal record is Aug. 10.
by Virginia Sutcliffe