Ergonomics: OSHA Eases Grandfather Clause Requirements

OSHA denied a request for an\r\nextension on the deadline employers must meet to "grandfather" their\r\nergonomics programs, but it may have given businesses a break instead.

OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress denied a request for an extension on the deadline employers must meet to "grandfather" their ergonomics programs, but all the same he gave businesses a break in his final month, according to Frank White, vice president of Organization Resources Counselors (ORC).

"He gave useful interpretations of the grandfather clause which will serve business well," White said. ORC, a management-consulting firm requested the extension in a Dec. 1 letter to Jeffress.

ORC argued that big differences between the proposed and the final standard made it hard for employers to have only 60 days from the publication of the rule to meet the requirements of the grandfather clause.

In response, Jeffress made four major points in a Dec. 28 letter to ORC:

  • The standard only requires employers to have made "an initial evaluation" of their ergonomics program by Jan. 16, 2001. This initial evaluation need not find the program "is without deficiencies," instead, OSHA only expects employers to have identified missing elements and establish a timetable to address them.
  • OSHA would not require "grandfathered" employers to use the same trigger criteria the standard calls for in paragraphs (e) and (f).
  • The initial evaluation required by paragraph (c)(1)(v) of the standard need not have been conducted between Nov. 14, 2000 and Jan. 16, 2001. Evaluations conducted before the standard''s publication may be used to satisfy this requirement.
  • Even though the standard is establishment-based, companies who have conducted a corporate-wide initial evaluation will meet the requirements of (c)(1)(v).

by James Nash

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