Business Leaders Dispute Ergo Rule, File Suits

As expected, several business groups have already retaliated\r\nagainst OSHA's newly-released ergonomics rule by filing law suits.

As expected, several business groups have already retaliated against OSHA''s newly-released ergonomics rule by filing law suits, and more are likely to follow in the coming days .

According to OSHA, the rules would cost businesses some $4.5 billion to implement but would help businesses save $9 billion a year in medical expenses and workers'' compensation.

But business leaders sharply dispute the cost figures, citing a study by the Employment Policy Foundation that estimated costs of $91.4 billion annually.

"It exceeds their [OSHA officials''] statutory authority, it''s unconstitutionally vague and there is no scientific basis for the standard," said Stephen Bokat, vice president and general counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one group that will seek to overturn the standard in court.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and other business associations also filed suit yesterday in U.S. District Court in an effort to block the controversial standard.

OSHA claims that the final standard was designed to reduce the number of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) or repetitive motion injuries in the workplace.

It requires all general industry employers to implement an ergonomics program when specific risk factors such as repetition, lifting, pushing, pulling, awkward postures, stress or vibrations develop into a MSD.

SHRM contends that OSHA provides no guidance to employers in the regulations on how to rationalize this wage replacement requirement with state workers'' compensation laws.

"Despite minor changes in the final published standard, little has been done to eliminate our original concerns," said Susan Meisinger SHRM executive vice president. "It is unfortunate that the Administration has taken this unprecedented course of action to rush such as complex standard through the regulatory process. It has left us with no option but to file suit."

SHRM filed formal comments with OSHA in March arguing that the proposed rule placed unwarranted compliance burdens on employers, and had unrealistic goals that conflicted with the National Labor Relations Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and state workers'' compensation laws.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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