The American Moving and Storage Assn.
projects that proposed federal ergonomics standards
will cost the moving and storage industry alone $3.6 billion a year, far more than federal forecasts.
The AMSA study, conducted by the Prime Consulting Group out of Bannockburn, IL, projects that the average cost per moving company to comply with the proposed standard would be $1.3 million, and would reduce labor productivity by an estimated 26%.
OSHA forecasts the standard will cost the entire business community only $4.2 billion.
The study based the calculations on the likelihood that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's proposed standard would require moving and storage companies to change the "truck crew and warehouseman job functions."
The consulting group relied on industry data provided by AMSA, company data provided by industry representatives, and site visits of warehouse operations of a number of moving and storage companies.
The study found two potential scenarios that would be likely if the proposed regulations become final.
In one scenario, all moving and storage companies would have to set up and actively manage a full ergonomics program. The study estimates the costs for setting up such a program to average $24,000 per company, and $37,000 to set up and manage such a program.
In the second scenario, moving and storage labor practices would have to be changed to eliminate or control hazardous jobs. The study estimates that would cost $1.25 million per company -- $1.3 million if warehouse operations are affected as well.
The study concludes that these two scenarios are "not economically feasible for the moving and storage industry."
AMSA is drafting written comments opposing the ergonomics proposal.
"Notwithstanding the fact that this standard would be cost-prohibitive for the majority of moving and storage companies, as a practical matter, it would be impossible to implement in our industry," said AMSA President Joe Harrison, who will testify at OSHA's public hearings on the proposal. "How does a moving company design and manage an ergonomics program for a workforce whose 'workstation' constantly changes from day to day, house to house?"