OSHA Pulls MSD Column Proposed Rule

It had been held up since July 14 at OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

Many stakeholders and commenters will be pleased by Tuesday's announcement by OSHA that it has temporarily withdrawn a proposal to add a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) to employers' 300 injury and illness logs. The regulation has been bottled up since July 14 at OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; OSHA said it is withdrawing the regulation from OMB review in order to "seek greater input from small businesses on the impact of the proposal and will do so through outreach in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy."

Opponents have argued the regulation is OSHA's attempt to resume ergonomics rulemaking for the first time since Congress and President George W. Bush repealed a new OSHA ergonomics standard in early 2001.

"Work-related musculoskeletal disorders remain the leading cause of workplace injury and illness in this country, and this proposal is an effort to assist employers and OSHA in better identifying problems in workplaces," Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said Tuesday. "However, it is clear that the proposal has raised concern among small businesses, so OSHA is facilitating an active dialogue between the agency and the small business community."

The agency's announcement cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics in stating that MSDs accounted for 28 percent of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work in 2009.

The proposed rule would require employers already mandated to keep injury and illness records, and to record MSDs, to place a check mark in the new column for all MSDs. "Prior to 2001, OSHA's injury and illness logs contained a column for repetitive trauma disorders that included noise and many kinds of MSDs. In 2001, OSHA separated noise and MSDs into two columns, but the MSD column was deleted in 2003 before the provision became effective. This proposal would restore the MSD column to the Form 300," the agency noted. It said a joint OSHA/Office of Advocacy meeting to hear from small businesses will be announced within 30 days, with participation possible both by telephone and online.

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