American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Samuel Gualardo said Friday in letters to Sen. John Breaux, D-La., and Rep. Chris John, D-La., that ASSE supports the development of an ergonomic standard.
Breaux and John recently proposed legislation in Congress, S 598 and HR 1241, requiring OSHA to promulgate an ergonomics standard two years after enactment of the subject legislation.
"ASSE and its members are committed to protecting people, property and the environment. We continue to work with employers, employees, clients, associates and other safety professionals to prevent workplace musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace," wrote Gualardo. "Effective ergonomic programs are a significant economic plus to any company or organization and positively impacts an organization''s bottom-line."
In the letters, Gualardo noted that ASSE is committed to working with Congress and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to craft a new regulation that will protect workers without adding unnecessary regulatory requirements.
"We believe good public policy, science and sound technology will drive the process," continued Gualardo. "As far as the ergonomics standard, we believe it should be a stand-alone standard, be performance oriented and applicable to all employers and employees. It should outline the basic tenets and acceptable practices necessary for successfully developing and managing an effective ergonomic program."
Gualardo said that ASSE believes that in order for any standard to work, it needs to be supported by cohesive efforts, melding the resources of OSHA, business associations, professional societies and academia.
"Such a program can be supported by other positive reinforcement actions such as penalty reductions for good faith efforts by employers or, because of anticipated significant costs to employers, granting tax credits for the creation and maintenance of an acceptable program," wrote Gualardo.
Gualardo also stated that the science to justify the need for an ergonomics standard exists.
ASSE accepts the recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study indicating a scientific basis for an ergonomic standard.
However, ASSE also said it supports enhancing the knowledge base on this issue through continued research into the causation, identification and prevention of ergonomic injuries.
by Virginia Sutcliffe