In the wake of a citizen vote that overturned the State of Washington’s ergonomics rule, another state is now considering developing their own ergonomics standard. After a set of meetings that concluded in September 2003, a group of industry representatives and ergonomics practitioners teamed with Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSH) to lay the ground work for a potential ergonomics rule for that state’s businesses and workers.
In the “Final Report 2003” by MIOSHA’s Joint Ergonomic Standard Steering Committee, the committee created a list of recommendations for the state’s Ergonomics Standard Advisory Committee (ERSAC) to consider in developing a state-mandated standard. Included in the report were recommendations that the rule be “performance-based, simple and user-friendly,” innovative, informative, and should incorporate both preventive and injury-triggered requirements for employers. Recommendations specifically associated with the process of developing the standard include having the steering committee merely advise on the development rather than dictate, and to develop an advisory committee for the standard that includes “broad representation covering targeted industries and labor,” and more specifically that “front-line [industry] representatives” not be left out of ERSAC in lieu of “vendors and clinical technocrats.”
ERSAC, which consists of representatives of labor groups and management as well as a public representatives, technical advisors and a committee liaison, is scheduled to meet on January 7, 2004.
In the meantime, California, as the only remaining state with an active ergonomics rule, is also facing ergonomics-related concerns. Budget cuts affecting the state’s workers compensation system could have a strong impact on the state’s injured workers, including those with work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), injuries that can often be prevented or minimized through timely work-based ergonomics interventions.