WASHINGTON, DC — On March 8, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a repeal of the ergonomics standard that would have put more requirements on workplace safety programs.

Many industry associations and their members fought against the standard. Larry Taylor, president of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and Air Rite Air Conditioning in Ft. Worth, TX, said, “It’s not that we don’t want safe workplaces, especially in this era of labor shortages, but this standard has too many flaws and uncertainties to accomplish the intended goals.”

The standard, proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to the House and Senate in Nov. 2000, has been in development for 10 years. If upheld, it would have required contractors to adopt policies and procedures that would address all facets of employee musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) developed on the job.

According to the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association (PHCC), here are a few examples of what the bill would have required:

  • Informing each employee of the existence of MSD, how to report it to the employer, and posting what the signs and symptoms are, at the workplace; and
  • Developing a “quick fix” program or a full-fledged ergonomics program that would include job hazard analysis, employee and management leadership, control measures, and job training.
  • “OSHA has been very cooperative in helping update our materials,” said Taylor. “We look upon them as a partner in the process of improving worker safety. However, in developing this standard, they were wrong.”

    For more information, visit OSHA at www.osha.gov (website).

    Publication date: 03/19/2001