Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Looks like the same old, same old on ergonomic injuries

Yup, it's happening again. A U.S. president says "Never mind" on protecting workers from repetitive stress injuries.

Bloomberg reports
The Obama administration on Tuesday withdrew a plan to require more extensive workplace records on ergonomic-related injuries after business groups said the rule might have raised costs to avoid repetitive-stress ailments.
Here's who gets repetitive stress injuries: Bronson Arroyo from pitching for the Cincinnati Reds. Truck drivers from prolonged sitting. Nursing aids from overexertion. Retail grocery clerks from scanning barcodes.
Office workers from typing. Prison guards from unlocking cells by hand. Poultry processors from cutting up chickens.

In fact, ergonomic injuries are the single biggest source of workplace injury and illness. They can cause excruciating pain. They can require surgery. They can cripple.

We know how prevalent these injuries are because there's a form that companies use to track workplace injuries. From 1970 until 2003, that form had a column for ergonomic (or "musculoskeletal") injuries. George W. Bush's OSHA deleted the column in 2003. Recently, Barack Obama's OSHA proposed bringing the column back. The business community went nuts, no doubt because of an abundance of concern for worker safety. So the Obama administration withdrew the plan.

Occupational health guru Peg Seminario of the AFL-CIO said she was stunned.
We expected this from the Bush administration, but certainly not the Obama administration. It’s caving in to the concerns of businesses, who don’t want any new rules to protect against workplace injuries.
The Obama administration says it's only withdrawing the rule temporarily. But Seminario is worried.
If this is too much for the Obama administration, we are really concerned about how they are going to proceed on other important safety and health regulations.