Washington Post: drop in OSHA recordables vs time off

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    “OSHA withdraws more Rules than it makes, Reviews Find”

    Cindy Skrzycki, Washington Post, pE04. October 5, 2004.

    FYI, article in today’s Washington Post…

    Reductions in recorded injuries did not correspondingly reduce the percent days off for injuries and illnesses attributable to ergonomics.




    I hope that you really mean injuries due to poor ergonomics (or a lack of ergonomics)! You make an interesting point but I worry that the public perception of news phrased in that way might be giving ergonomics a bad name. Am I the only one who feels that using that terminology is like kicking an own goal?

    Alan Hedge mentioned the increasing use of the phrase “ergonomic injuries” in the US at his workshop in Cairns and I thought that he might be exaggerating a little until I did a Google search for the exact phrase and found that there were over six thousand citations for it! He pointed out that we (ergonomists) are increasingly seen as the problem rather than as a solution to the problem. Even government agencies are now using it; see



    Hi, DaveMac, I just made a quick post on a chat site with a link, I would hope anyone who was interested in the topic would look at the article and investigate further beyond that…

    Below is some of the text from the article

    Said Henshaw, who inherited the protective equipment proposal from the Clinton administration: “We’re reviewing the comments now and we’re committed to taking the next step. But I don’t want to say exactly what the next step is.”

    His emphasis, he said, has been on cooperative efforts with business and stepped-up enforcement of “bad actors” who are responsible for most safety problems.

    The agency has formed 231 long-term alliances with trade associations and companies since 2002 that emphasize outreach, education, and sharing “best practices.” OSHA under Henshaw has forged 214 active strategic partnerships that set safety goals involving 4,762 employers, and there are 1,153 voluntary protection program sites, where companies with exemplary safety records forego routine inspections.

    Critics of the agency are leery of these arrangements, where union participation is minimal. And they don’t entirely trust the numbers OSHA uses to support its claim that injures and illnesses are decreasing. Unions don’t consider the reports dependable, she said, because they are furnished by employers.

    Seminario points out that there have been two major changes in the way employers collect injury and illness data since 2002, making comparisons to earlier years difficult. For example, the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries on the job — injuries from repetitive work and poorly designed workplaces — is no longer reported separately.

    Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on days missed from work for illness show that over the past few years, the percentage of days taken off due to injuries and illnesses related to ergonomic issues has remained constant — about 34 percent — though the overall number of injuries and illnesses has decreased.

    The business community said it wasn’t that focused on the proposed rules OSHA axed but wanted to prevent new regulations. And groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been unhappy that the safety regulators issued citations for ergonomic violations under a broad enforcement authority. Since Congress killed the ergo rule two years ago, OSHA has opened cases against seven companies for ergonomic-related violations.

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