From Charles N. Jeffress, Assistant Secretary of OSHA
As OSHA’s ergonomics standard takes effect today, more than 100 million workers across America can look forward to a brighter, more healthful future. That’s because over the next 10 years, 4.6 million workers from poultry processors to data entry specialists to warehouse workers will be spared painful, potentially debilitating work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Beginning this coming October, the nearly 85 percent of U.S. employers who have not addressed ergonomics in their workplaces will begin to do so, and the results will benefit everyone. Workers will report problems earlier and get the help they need to prevent serious injury. Problem jobs will be fixed, preventing future workers from suffering MSDs. Employers will see medical expenses and workers’ compensation costs go down and productivity go up. Total savings will amount to $9.1 billion each year. OSHA’s website (www.osha.gov) provides information for employers who need help in with ergonomics.
Today also marks the date for progressive employers who already have ergonomics programs in place to complete their initial evaluations to see if they qualify under the “grandfather” provisions of the standard. We anticipate that most, if not all, current programs will immediately meet, or can be easily fine-tuned to meet, the more flexible requirements under this provision. The only change necessary for most programs will be to adopt an MSD management policy by Jan.16, 2002.
OSHA’s ergonomics standard is founded on sound science in line with OSHA’s commitment to send every worker home whole and healthy every day. We trust that as the standard takes effect workers will experience significant improvements in health and employers will reap significant savings.
SOURCE: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.osha.gov