The AIHCE program (May 31-June 5, Minneapolis, MN) continued a tradition of including strong ergonomic content with a well-received pre-conference seminar (Making a Business Case for Ergonomics), two Personal Development Courses (Office Ergonomics and Heat Stress), nine sessions in the Technical Program, and numerous ergonomic product exhibitors.
The AIHA Ergonomics Committee meeting highlighted several accomplishments during the past year; these included an ergonomics guideline for use in conjunction with the ANSI/AIHA Z10 –2005 American National Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, ergonomic tip sheets and a manual materials handling bibliography.
On the show floor, a Liko/Hill Rom booth highlighting patient handling tools created a lot of buzz.
There was a good deal of discussion at the conference with regard to potential changes at OSHA and NIOSH after the election. The consensus opinion seemed to be that a Democratic administration would likely attempt a new ergonomic regulation or regulations, but that the success of any such proposals would be dependent on a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Speculation was that a patient-handling regulation might have the best chances of being passed. The timing of any such action or actions would depend on appointment of a Secretary of Labor and an OSHA Director, and would likely not occur until 2010. While there was a great deal of speculation on potential OSHA directors after the change in administration, no clear favorites emerged for either party.
OSHA and NIOSH budgets were also discussed and the consensus was that nothing much would happen until the new Congress is in session next year. Current administration proposals would see OSHA receive a minor increase of about $15 million; however, NIOSH’s budget would see a cut of about $100 million.