Ending his packed-house speech on ergonomics at last week’s National Ergonomics Conference and Exhibition (NECE) in Las Vegas, OSHA administrator John Henshaw called for private industry to take control of ergonomics through self-created voluntary guidelines, and reminded the audience that the federal government wouldn’t be capable of creating guidelines for everyone.
While noting that industry shouldn’t “rely on the government to [create ergonomics guidelines],” and that the government would “not be able to create guidelines for each and every industry,” Henshaw also stated that OSHA was ready to enter into an alliance with “any organization that has a thread of safety and health.” Thus far, OSHA has created over a dozen self-regulating alliances with both private industry and industry groups. To date, however, no ergonomics-specific organizations or businesses have entered into alliances with OSHA.
Alliances are promoted by OSHA to create voluntary guidelines and offer compliance assistance for both OSHA and affected industries. Said Henshaw, “We must and we will use enforcement to guaranty a safe workplace. Reducing ergonomic hazards and providing a safe workplace is not voluntary per the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Having said that, there will be no enforcement of OSHA or any other ergonomic guidelines.” Henshaw noted that ergonomics violations fall under the enforcement power of the General Duty Clause in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
“OSHA is going to be part of the leadership and driving force around ergonomics,” said Henshaw, who also asked the audience to “come up with three ways that [businesses and OSHA] can all work together.” He recommended posting ergonomics suggestions on OSHA’s website.
Rachel Michael, M. Sc., AEP, contributed to this story