STANFORD, CALIF. - The federal government should develop voluntary standards and best practices for ergonomics rather than rely on mandated regulations that would be unworkable or expensive, particularly for small businesses, an industry trade group told an Occupational Safety and Health Administration panel July 24.
Testifying before an OSHA panel convened to decide how to tackle the issue, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. said it sees ergonomics-related injuries as a real problem but one that warrants a more flexible approach from government.
OSHA is trying to figure out what, if anything, it should do to address the issue. In March, Congress overturned the Clinton administration's ergonomics standard. In its place, OSHA should be developing guidelines and providing much more assistance to small firms, according to Washington-based SPI.
``This type of effort would have the greatest potential for success if OSHA were to establish and rely on a separate, carefully balanced special advisory committee for each such industry,'' said Paul Appelblom, vice chairman of SPI and president of injection molder Jatco Inc. in Union City, Calif. He testified for SPI at a hearing July 24 in Stanford.
The federal government should model its efforts on the Michigan state OSHA, which has a strong outreach program for ergonomics to provide best practices and assist small companies, many of whom are looking for help, said Susan Howe, senior technical director of worker and product safety at Washington-based SPI.
Only two states, California and Washington, have ergonomics requirements, she said.