State Plans Make Decisions About Federal Ergonomic Rule

The North Carolina Department of Labor adopted OSHA's ergonomic standard verbatim and the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division is reviewing the final rule.

The North Carolina Department of Labor adopted OSHA''s ergonomic standard verbatim and the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division is reviewing the final rule.

States, such as North Carolina and Oregon that choose to administer their own safety and health rules, have six months to adopt the federal standards, as written, or adopt an alternative standard that is "at least as effective."

"Many people concerned about employee health have worked for years to stop the growing problem of ergonomic disorders," said North Carolina Labor Commissioner Harry E. Payne. "We tried to adopt our own North Carolina ergonomic standard. It was a standard written by North Carolinians for North Carolina employers and employees."

A proposed state ergonomic standard was halted by the state''s Rules Review Commission during administrative rulemaking.

The standard is now in the pre-trial stages of a Labor Department suit against the Rules and Review Commission for not approving the proposed rule.

In anticipation of federal action, Oregon OSHA formed a work group in August of 1999 to advise the division on ergonomics issues.

This group will help advise the division during its review of the standard.

"Oregon OSHA has begun its review of the federal ergonomic program standard, and will convene its advisory group to help in that process," said Peter DeLuca, administrator of Oregon OSHA. "In the meantime, I would encourage any employer interested in addressing ergonomic issues in their workplace to use the consultative and training services offered by Oregon OSHA."

Oregon OSHA offers no-cost ergonomic consultations and administers the Worksite Redesign Grant program, which helps employers modify worksites to avoid musculoskeletal injuries. For more information, visit the division''s Web site at www.orosha.org.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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