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Article # 13100

OSHA’S New Ergonomic Standard Focuses on Continuous Improvement

According to the Industrial Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) Washington Report, OSHA's new ergonomic standard will focus on continuous improvement of working conditions to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. The upcoming standard is described by OSHA as a "performance-oriented rule with specific guidance in certain areas, including compliance assistance materials." Under the pending rules, employers will have to provide information regarding musculoskeletal disorders, identify jobs where there is any incident of such injuries, and implement procedures for receiving and responding to employee complaints and concerns. Where "problem jobs" (carrying a moderate to high risk) exist, employers will have to identify the cause and correct the situation.

The new rules will also require a high degree of employee involvement in all stages of a company's ergonomic control program and special training in work practices and ergonomic awareness. There will also be medical monitoring and treatment mandates and requirements for evaluation and improvement.

According to ISEA, the standard has been a priority of the current OSHA administration. Officials at OSHA stress that the standard is still under development within the agency, however, the summary of the draft standard released by OSHA in September 1994 is a good reflection of the current OSHA perspective on ergonomics.