Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced Friday that OSHA''s recordkeeping rule would largely go into effect as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2002.
"This rule is a big step forward in making workplaces safer for employees, which is our goal," said Chao. "It is written in plain language and simplifies the employer''s decision-making process."
The final recordkeeping rule is the culmination of an effort that began in the 1980s to improve how the government tracks occupational injuries and illnesses.
The rule increases employee involvement, creates simpler forms and gives employers more flexibility to use computers to meet OSHA regulatory requirements.
The Department of Labor (DOL) said it will seek comment on two proposed modifications to the rule''s recordkeeping requirements.
First, the department will propose that the criteria for recording work-related hearing loss not be implemented for one year pending further investigation into the level of hearing loss that should be recorded as "significant" health condition.
DOL received comments pointing out that the medical community and state workers'' compensation systems do not support the current rule''s hearing loss standard.
Second, DOL will propose to delay for one year the recordkeeping rule''s definition of "musculoskeletal disorder" (MSD) and the requirement that employers check the MSD column on the OSHA Log.
The department said it intends to develop a comprehensive plan to address ergonomic hazards and has scheduled a series on ergonomics.
The issues to be decided as a result of these forum include the appropriate definitions of the terms "ergonomic injury" and MSD.
"Until a definition is agreed upon, the data collected will not help us target the injuries that need to be elminated," said Chao.
by Virginia Sutcliffe