The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is backing down from its plan to resume measurement of work-related musculoskeletal injuries on employer injury and illness logs.
OSHA said it wants to "seek greater input from small businesses on the impact of the proposal" before finalizing it,a decision Public Citizen said it found mystifying.
Critics noted thatOSHA administrator David Michaels conceded that “work-related musculoskeletal disorders remain the leading cause of workplace injury and illness in this country, and this proposal is an effort to assist employers and OSHA in better identifying problems in workplaces.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSDs accounted for 28 percent of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work in 2009.
"In fact, repetitive motion injuries do silent violence to workers across the nation. It is hardly asking too much to require employers to check a box indicating that a work-related injury is a musculoskeletal disorder," saidAlex Chasick, Policy Counsel, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division.
The Small Business Administration applauded the action.
"When it comes to crafting federal regulations, the input of small business is invaluable," said Winslow Sargeant, the SBA's Chief Counsel for Advocacy. "This Advocacy-OSHA meeting on MSD reporting will provide the opportunity for small businesses to voice their concerns on this critical issue.”
Chasick said the costs of the proposed rule are "miniscule."
"OSHA’s proposed rule determined that the costs per business of becoming familiar with the change and recording musculoskeletal disorders as such would be approximately four dollars for the first year and 67 cents for subsequent years."
"This rule has been held up by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which should not have reviewed the rule in the first place, and has missed deadlines for completing review." Chasick said. "Now this rule is being improperly subjected to a small business review panel. Neither of these additional review procedures is appropriate for a rule with such a small economic impact."
Chasick said it is the second rule that OSHA has withdrawn since President Obama issued an op-ed, memorandum and executive order criticizing regulations and calling for more business influence in the rulemaking process.
"Last week, the administration backed off a proposed workplace noise rule in response to complaints from major business groups. We are troubled by the implications of these actions, and urge OSHA to resume its efforts to protect workers from injuries and illnesses," Chasick said.
The proposed rule would not change existing requirements about when and under what circumstances employers must record musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on their injury and illness logs.
While many employers are currently required to keep a record of workplace injuries and illnesses, including work-related MSDs, on the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), the vast majority of small businesses are not required to keep such records. The proposed rule would require those employers already mandated to keep injury and illness records, and to record MSDs, to place a check mark in the new column for all MSDs.