“Plague” of Ergonomic Proportions
Calling ergonomics “the next plague of the homebuilding industry,” the Building Industry Association of Washington’s (BIAW) newly-elected president, Randy Gold, vowed to kill ergonomics during his reign at the association. “Next year, I am going to push for this association to run an initiative to roll back ergonomics… An initiative repealing ergonomics is winnable, and it is vital to the future of the homebuilding industry,” Gold was quoted in a Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce article.
The BIAW, with over 9,000 members statewide, elected Gold as its 2003 president.
Also in Washington, the state’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) released records on Monday, following a court order to make its ergonomics consultations and inspections records available to the public. L&I’s previous stance was to only release information regarding ergonomics to the affected parties, but following a suit by BIAW and members of the state’s media, a judge ruled that the ergonomics records were public information.
According to an article in The Olympian, L&I previously claimed that opening the records would discourage employers from asking for assistance to help them meet ergonomics compliance.
The BIAW has long been fighting the state’s ergonomics standard and has also filed a separate lawsuit regarding the cost of compliance and the formation of the standard.
OSHA Nursing Home Meeting Brings Comments
Critics responded in person to OSHA’s draft nursing home ergonomics guidelines on Monday, claiming the guidelines were disjointed and placed too much effort on purchasing new equipment.
During an OSHA-sponsored informal stakeholders’ meeting, members of the nursing home industry, labor unions, ergonomic specialists and industrial hygienists collected to give feedback on OSHA’s first set of voluntary guidelines.
According to a Cincinnati Enquirer article, the draft guidelines were labeled “a disjointed package of fact sheets without directions for putting the guidelines in place.”
David Ridyard, speaking on behalf of the American Industrial Hygienist Association (AIHA), denounced the guidelines for relying too heavily on special equipment and offering fact sheets instead of teaching the employers and employees how to identify causes of the problems and how to help correct them.
“Rather than having these fact sheets, there has to be something in the front of the document for employers and employees on how to tie them together,” said Ridyard in the Cincinnati Enquirer article.
According to an OSHA press release, “Guidelines, which target industries and tasks where musculoskeletal disorders are a problem, will offer employers and workers the flexibility they need to implement solutions that will be most effective and will protect workers from ergonomic hazards. The guidelines are intended to provide practical solutions for reducing ergonomic-related injuries and illnesses. They will not be used for enforcement purposes.”
OSHA has said the nursing home ergonomics guidelines will be completed by the end of the year. The nursing home guidelines are just the first in a series of industry-specific voluntary ergonomics guidelines the agency will be developing.
Sources: Seattle Daily Business Journal, The Olympian, OSHA.gov, Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett News Service)