In testimony yesterday before the House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs, James Knott, CEO of Riverdale Mills Corp., said OSHA''s new recordkeeping requirements will "unnecessarily, inappropriately and substantially increase the paperwork burden of employers."
"Manufacturers support a reasonable system that provides common-sense guidance regarding which occupational injuries and illnesses to record and how to record them; not one that imposes excessive paperwork burdens or creates more confusion among employers, with no added benefit or efficiency," Knott said in testimony on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which he is a member of the board of directors.
NAM filed a lawsuit March 19, challenging OSHA'' recordkeeping rule, which was finalized on Jan. 19, the last full day of the Clinton administration.
NAM is asking the Bush administration to change the rule.
In his testimony, Knott contended that OSHA''s recordkeeping regulation exceeds the agency''s statutory authority and was drafted with the now repealed ergonomics standard in mind.
"The recordkeeping regulation requires the recordation of injuries and illnesses that have little or no relationship to the workplace," Knott told the subcommittee. "This will result in a substantial increase in the number of recordable injuries and illnesses because their definition includes symptoms that are not objective or quantifiable."
Specifically, Knott objected to the regulation''s overly-broad definition of what constitutes a work-related injury, its "confusing" definition of work environment and its new limitations on the definition of preexisting conditions, among other issues.
Knott also criticized OSHA''s emphasis on fines and punishment, which makes employers wary of calling on OSHA for guidance.
"For too many employers, encounters with OSHA have been confrontational and intimidating rather than helpful and cooperative, resulting in frivolous and unfounded citations, fines and excessive paperwork burden," said Knott.
Knott concluded, "manufacturers are committed to working with their employees and with OSHA to identify and eliminate workplace hazards, thereby maintaining safe and healthful workplaces. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration on solutions to simplify and lesson the paperwork burden of recording occupational injuries and illnesses."
by Virginia Sutcliffe