Food Distributors: Death of Ergo Rule Saves Jobs

March 16, 2001
Recent Congressional action killing OSHA's ergonomics regulation will save food distributors billions of dollars, according to Food Distributors International (FDI).

Recent Congressional action killing OSHA''s ergonomics regulation will save food distributors billions of dollars and allow many distribution centers to remain in operation, according to Food Distributors International (FDI).

The ergonomics rule would have required employers to reconfigure their workplaces in order to reduce ergonomics-related injuries.

A study by FDI estimated it would cost food distributors alone as much as $22 billion to comply.

OSHA estimated the cost to all employers nationwide would be $4.5 billion.

"The action by Congress illustrates the absolute importance of involvement by organizations such as FDI and of individual business people themselves," said Kevin Burke, FDI vice president of governmental relations. "We were out front from the beginning on this issue. We helped organize a coalition of other organizations to defeat it. And our members backed us up with the every day, real-life workplace impact information that it took to help congressmen and senators see reason."

One FDI member estimated that it would costs $52 million to reconfigure his company to comply with the rule broken down by the following requirements:

  • Restricting the use of storage locations below the knee and above the shoulder and the handling of cases of more than 25 pound more than 25 times per day. This would require an additional 420 square feet of capacity, require 126 additional lift operators, 17.4 selectors as well as the purchase of six lift trucks and nine pallet jacks. Cost: $38,549,471.
  • Restricting placement in the back of pallets so employees don''t have to reach. A pallet-turning program would be needed, requiring 20 more lift truck operators and 10 more lift trucks. Cost. $1,085,187.

"FDI member companies already provide sensible and workable protections for their employees," said FDI President John Block. "We don''t need the government telling us how high to put our shelves or how many times a case can be lifted. Our members know what they must do to keep their employees healthy and on-the-job. And when there are injuries, they know they have to pay workers'' compensation."

Burke said the rules made "absolutely no sense" and would have provided "dubious benefits at an incredible cost." It was an example, he added, of "bureaucratic mistrust of business and the idea that the government is the sole source of wisdom."

FDI has been in the battle against the regulation since it was first initiated, and more than a year ago commissioned Prime Consulting, Bannockburn, Ill., to conduct a detailed study of the estimated cost that would be imposed.

That report said the cost could reach as much as $22 billion if companies had to reconfigure warehouses to comply.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!