OSHA announced on October 12, that it will delay for one year the effective date of three provisions of its recordkeeping rule and establish interim criteria for recording cases of work-related hearing loss.
The provisions, postponed until January 1, 2003, are: the criteria for recording work-related hearing loss; the rule’s definition of “musculoskeletal disorder” (MSD); and the requirement that employers check the MSD column on the OSHA log. All other provisions of the rule become effective on January 1, 2002.
The specific rules being delayed are:
- Sec. 1904.12: Which defines “musculoskeletal disorder” (MSD) and requires employers to check the MSD column on the OSHA Log if an employee experiences a work-related musculoskeletal disorder; and
- Sec. 1904.29(b)(7)(vi): Which states that MSDs are not considered privacy concern cases.
In July of this year, OSHA said it was reconsidering the section that required employers check the MSD column on the OSHA Log for a case involving a “musculoskeletal disorder” as defined in that section. OSHA cited it would be “premature to implement the new definition of MSD before considering the views of business, labor and the public health community on the problem of ergonomic hazards.”
OSHA also voiced concern that it would create “confusion and uncertainty” to require employers to implement the new MSD definition while Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao was developing a comprehensive plan to address ergonomic hazards and holding forums to determine how to define an ergonomic injury. A final assessment of this information was postponed after the events of September 11th.
OSHA did state that the delay does not affect the employer’s obligation to record all injuries and illnesses, including musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses, which meet the criteria of the rule, regardless of whether a particular injury or illness would meet the definition of an MSD included in the rule.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for employers to accurately document workplace injuries and illnesses,” said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. “In order to do that, we have to evaluate these criteria and determine the best way to identify and record these particular cases.”
The final recordkeeping rule is the culmination of an effort that began in the 1980’s to improve how the government tracks occupational injuries an illnesses. The rule increases employee involvement, creates simpler forms and gives employers more flexibility to use computers to meet OSHA regulatory requirements.
OSHA will issue new recordkeeping forms that have been modified to remove the MSD and hearing loss columns from the OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses and the OSHA 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. The instructions accompanying the forms have also been modified to reflect the requirements that will take effect in calendar year 2002.