Bush Administration Proposing MSD Cover-up, AFL-CIO Charges

AFL-CIO is charging that the Bush administration is joining with industry groups that want to cover-up MSDs caused by ergonomics hazards.

In June Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) was proposing to delay for one year provisions of the revised recordkeeping rule tied to the nullified ergonomics standard.

While the rest of the recordkeeping standard is to take effect Jan. 1, 2002, DOL wanted more time before implementing the definition of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) and the requirement to identify MSDs on OSHA''s new log of injuries and illnesses.

OSHA is currently taking public comments on the proposal and a final decision is expected in September.

"With this action, the Bush administration is joining with the National Association of Manufacturers and other industry groups that want to cover-up MSDs caused by ergonomics hazards," charged the AFL-CIO in a recently released fact sheet.

The union believes that if the proposal is ratified, DOL would end up without any definition of MSDs and without the recording criteria established more than 10 years ago.

One result is that it would be nearly impossible to enforce against ergonomics hazards under the OSH Act general duty clause.

Another result could be to knock the legs out from any effort to issue a new ergonomics standard. The AFL-CIO is worried that If DOL carries out its proposal without coming up with a substitute MSD definition, repetitive motion injuries will officially cease to exist.

by James Nash

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