Groups promote views on ergonomics rule

AAOHN and ACOEM comment on rule

The nursing and physician groups representing occupational health professionals both are complaining that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed ergonomics rule does not give them enough recognition.

The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) in Atlanta said in its comments on the proposed rule that it is "extremely disappointed that OSHA has entertained the question as to whether it is appropriate for OSHA to recognize or promote the role of the nonphysician provider with respect to the ergonomics standard." AAOHN called for OSHA to require or promote the use of occupational health nurses when complying with the ergonomics rule.

Physicians vs. nurses?

On the other hand, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Med-icine (ACOEM), representing occupational medicine physicians, said it is irked that the proposed rule leaves too much room for employers to use nurses or other nonphysicians. "ACOEM continues to question OSHA’s use of licensed health care provider’ language when OSHA’s colleague federal agencies have publicly disagreed with its use," the organization stated in its written comments.

Those comments indicate the physician group wants much more of the ergonomic rule’s required tasks to be performed only by a physician. However, AAOHN’s comments indicate that the nurses’ group wants the rule to indicate even more clearly than it already does that nurses may perform many of the tasks.

Diplomatically, both groups tell Occupational Health Management that their apparently contrasting opinions do not represent any conflict between the groups.