Have you heard about OSHA's proposed Ergonomics Rule 29 CFR Part 1910? The proposal would require about 1.6 million employers to implement a basic ergonomics program, which would require you to assign someone to be responsible for ergonomics; provide employees with information on the risk of injuries and symptoms and set up a system for employees to report signs of trouble. Full programs would be required only if a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) actually occurred.
According to OSHA estimates, the cost of compliance with the proposal would be approximately $800 per affected employee; however, according to a report from a small business advocacy review panel (http://www.osha-slc.gov/html/Panltr1.html), one business owner estimated that it would cost him an average of $20,161 per affected employee. The panel said that OSHA underestimated the cost of compliance by 1/10 to ¼ the actual cost.
OSHA estimated the cost of a consultant at $1,000. Janet Kerley, a safety and health consultant with Lead-Rite, stated that figure as low, estimating an ergonomic consultant cost at approximately $2,000 for a walk-through inspection and up to $25,000 for a complete hazardous control analysis.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) surveyed 100 small businesses about the ergonomics rule. In addition to costs, companies cited misspent time and resources and increased paperwork as concerns. The NAM survey shows a cost of $781 per employee to implement the program (not affected employee).
Comments from the NAM survey include, “OSHA’s rule would financially cripple our operation. We would be out of business in 3 months.” One company noted that $781 per employee is higher than its total workers' compensation costs in its worst injury year.
How do you think the proposed OSHA Ergonomics rule will affect you? You can read the abbreviated version at www.osha-slc.gov/ergonomics-standard/fedregabbrversion.html. Send Products Finishing your comments and we will forward them to The Policy Group, which handles legislative affairs for the National Association of Metal Finishers. The group will be speaking to Congress and OSHA on behalf of the finishing industry to defeat this rule, citing its financial burden on small business and that it is not based on well-developed research.