ASSE Proposes Alternative Ergonomics Standard

June 17, 1999
It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) supports the concept of OSHA's proposed Ergonomics Program Standard (EPS), but has significant concerns with specific portions of the proposal. As a result, ASSE has come up with a proposed alternative standard.

In a June 4 letter from ASSE President Fred F. Fleming to OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress, ASSE stated it believes there is science justifying the creation of an ergonomics standard, but the biggest concern is that some of the sections of OSHA's proposal will generate unneeded resistance, such as medical management's involvement regarding compensation during rehabilitation. The organization, with the help of members from academia, public sector, industry, commercial interests, consulting, engineering, organized labor and ASSE membership, conducted a review and analysis of OSHA's draft proposal and developed its own.

ASSE's counterproposal is a stand-alone ergonomics standard that is performance-based and not a generic approach, requires an ergonomic evaluation, and is created through private/public partnership, such as the negotiated rulemaking process or the multiple stakeholders input process exemplified by OSHA's proposed Safety and Health Program Standard. OSHA's proposed EPS does not meet these criteria, Fleming stated in his letter.

In addition, ASSE is concerned that the proposed standard doesn't address how to prevent ergonomics injuries and focuses too much on enforcement.

OSHA's proposed standard, currently in draft form, is scheduled for release some time in September. The working draft reflects several of the suggestions, criticisms and comments that have been made to date about its content and format.

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