KCMA Applauds Rescinding of Ergonomics Rule

by WOHe

KCMA Applauds Rescinding of Ergonomics Rule

Reston, VA The action by Congress to rescind a government
regulation affecting the handling of workplace-related injuries is
being applauded by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association,
which termed the controversial ergonomics standard a
“monstrosity.”

The KCMA said that the resolution approved by Congress last
month to rescind the recently implemented workplace code “was one
of the best actions Congress has taken in the past several
years.”

The new OSHA regulation, implemented at the tail end of the
Clinton Administration, had established a wide range of procedures
and penalties related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) incurred
by employees. The regulation had been strongly supported by labor
unions, but vigorously opposed by many companies and business
organizations, including the KCMA.

“The cost and complexity of this 600-page monstrosity would have
choked many small businesses in our industry,” said KCMA executive
v.p. Dick Titus. “The rate of reported MSDs has been steadily
declining thanks to the voluntary efforts of employers. This
regulation would have reversed this positive trend and imposed
mandatory additional costs and/or fines on employers,” he
added.

According to KCMA president Ralph Lackner and other critics of
the OSHA code, if the guideline had been left to stand, employers
could have been held responsible for MSD injuries “regardless of
where or how they occurred.” In addition, critics charged, slackard
employees would have benefitted unduly from the regulation’s
required 90% pay for 90 days, just for claiming an injury.

The regulation, moreover, was “vague and open to
interpretation,” and would have proven costly and especially
difficult for many small businesses to comply with, said Lackner,
noting that a survey by the Reston, VA-based KCMA found that the
costs to members to implement the OSHA regulation could have ranged
from $1,298 to $3,260 per employee.

“Science did not support the regulation and many provisions were
vague and open to interpretation,” Titus commented. “Cabinet making
was singled out under the regulation, yet OSHA turned a deaf ear to
concerns raised by KCMA in public hearings, at meetings and in
formal comments,” he added. “The abuse of process by OSHA and the
overreaching nature of the regulation ultimately sealed its
fate.”

KCMA officials said while they were uncertain of the fate of
similar federal or state workplace standards in the future, “the
highly politicized nature of the debate virtually guarantees that
the issue will not go away.”
The KCMA “has considered ergonomics a priority issue for the past
10 years,” Titus said. “Employ- ers should continue their efforts
to take cost-effective, proven steps where feasible to reduce the
risk of MSD injuries. A continuation of the downward trend in
reports of MSD injuries is the best bottom-line argument that can
be made.”

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