The rules, published last November, would cover some 1.6 million employees and are intended to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders such as back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome attributed to repetitive motion. The proposal is aimed primarily at manufacturing and manual handling jobs such as package delivery and "pick and place" warehouse operations. However, it leaves the door open for other jobs to be included if problems occur.
At minimum, employees would have to assign someone to be responsible for ergonomics information and reporting. Some would be required to have programs to address special problems. OSHA has also recommended that workers who need time off to recover should get 90% of pay and 100% of benefits. Those assigned to light duty would receive full pay and benefits.
The original deadline for written comments was Feb. 1, 2000. Due to numerous requests for more time, OSHA extended the deadline to March 2.
An informal public hearing is scheduled to start March 13 in Washington, DC. It will run four weeks then continue in Chicago, IL, starting April 22. For additional information see the February 1, 2000, Federal Register, available on the Internet at www.nara.gov/fedreg or call OHSA's Ergonomics Team at (202) 693-2116 or visit the OHSA web page at www.osha.gov.