Industry Groups Appeal Draft Ergo Standard

Worries that OSHA could use a voluntary consensus ergonomics standard to cite companies under the agency's General Duty Clause have spurred 19 organizations to appeal the draft standard that is sponsored by the American National Standard's Institute (ANSI) accredited Z365 committee.

The National Safety Council (NSC) serves as secretariat of Z365.

The committee struggled for more than a decade to reach consensus on ergonomics and recently adopted a draft standard despite strong opposition from the business community.

The Jan. 24 letter from industry lawyer Baruch Fellner uses American Standards Committee (ASC) Z365's internal appeal procedure and complains about the process used by the committee in producing the standard on Management of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders. The industry groups, led by the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Coalition on Ergonomics, challenge what they refer to as an unbalanced, "pro-standard" composition of the committee, the barriers to public participation and the rejection of many business views during the process.

The groups asked NSC to conduct a full-day hearing where opponents can air their views.

"We'll process the appeals and try to answer the issues raised to the best of our ability," said Leo Carey, a management official with the National Safety Council, the secretariat of the committee. "Hopefully, we can resolve the matter without going further in the process."

This appeal may be only the beginning of a lengthy process of procedural hurdles that must be overcome before the draft standard is issued. After ASC Z365 rules on the appeal, if the standard is submitted and approved by ANSI, those unhappy with the process may still appeal to ANSI's Board of Standards Review. If ANSI's board approves of the standard it can be issued, but a final appeal can be lodged with the ANSI Appeals Board.

In addition, the industry coalition could challenge the standard in federal court.

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