Ergonomics at a Glance: Highlights of OSHA’s Proposal

The problem: About 600,000 work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) a year that require days off from work, including about 45,000 in hospitals.

The proposal: Employers must respond to each OSHA-recordable MSD, including back injuries and repetitive-motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, with an ergonomics program.

A basic program: Employers with existing programs will qualify under the proposed standard as long as they include these elements:

— Management leadership and initial program implementation, including allocation of resources and assignment of program responsibilities

— Information and training for responsible managers

— Establishment of an employee reporting system and procedures to protect against discrimination for employees participating in the program or reporting hazards

— Provision of the information employees need to recognize the signs and symptoms of MSDs and MSD hazards

A full program: When an employee reports an MSD that is OSHA-recordable and covered by the standard, the employer must implement an ergonomics program that includes:

— training for managers

— training for employees

— job hazard analysis

— evaluation of appropriate job controls

— management of MSDs

— record-keeping

— program evaluation

A quick fix: If the injury is isolated and unlikely to recur, employers can implement a "quick-fix" option. The quick fix requires putting in controls within 90 days after the MSD is identified and following up within 30 days to determine whether the controls have eliminated the hazard.

Work restriction protection: Employees reporting an MSD receive 100% pay and benefits for light duty and 90% pay and 100% benefits for time off work to recover for up to six months.

Public hearings: Hearings begin at 9:30 a.m. on the first day and 8:30 a.m. on subsequent days.

Feb. 22-March 17

Frances Perkins Building Auditorium

U.S. Department of Labor

200 Constitution Ave., N.W.

Washington, DC

March 21-31

Benson Hotel

309 Southwest Broadway

Portland, OR

April 11-21

James R. Thompson Center

State of Illinois Building

100 W. Randolph St.