ABC Opposing Construction Ergonomics Standard, OSHA Reform BIlls

Associated Builders and Contractors, the national association of 24,000 merit shop construction firms, testified May 1 at an ANSI accredited standards committee appeal hearing that the ANSI A 10.40 standard, Reduction of Musculoskeletal Problems in Construction, should not go forward. The American Subcontractors Association also testified against the ergonomics standard. The ANSI A10 Committee for Construction and Demolition Operations adopted the standard earlier this year; it would require employers to assess ergonomic risks of job-site tasks, implement solutions for those risks, and have ergonomics experts at their sites.

ABC's Director of Safety, Chris Williams (cwilliams@abc.org) testified there is no scientific basis that supports writing an ergonomics standard for the construction industry and said the proposed standard "is not based on good data, good science, or sound technology." He testified that the ANSI committee did not adequately establish a causal relationship between specific injuries and the work being performed. "None of the studies considered or attempted to draw a correlation between any specific category of work-related injury that may be occurring in the construction industry and the specfic remedial actions that, if taken, would prevent such injuries from occurring," Williams said.

ABC also is opposing the identical OSHA reform bills filed April 30 by U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., who chairs the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the House Education and Labor Committee. Their bills would raise penalties, expand OSHA's jurisdiction to state and federal works not currently covered, and expose employers whose repeated violations lead to serious or fatal worker injuries to criminal charges. Bill Spencer, ABC's vice president of government affairs, said the bills aren't necessary because workplace fatalities are "at the lowest at any time since OSHA has been around. The arbitrarily set, increased penalties in the bill will do nothing but damage the relationship OSHA has cultivated with the employer community to increase the number of company safety programs across the country," Spencer added.

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