ABC Urges OSHA To Abandon Proposed Musculoskeletal Reporting Rule

ABC March 30 objected to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed rule that would revise the OSHA Form 300 to include an additional reporting column for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).  The proposed rule would amend OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation, although OSHA claims it would not require employers to implement any new controls in the workplace. 

In its comments, ABC expressed concern over the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) largely due to the vague and subjective definition of what would constitute an MSD.  The NPRM defines MSDs as “disorders for the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs, except those caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, or other similar accidents.” ABC pointed out that the definition groups together a variety of disorders and symptoms that are not necessarily related.  In addition, ABC noted that even the scientific community has been unable to settle on a reliable definition or cause of most MSDs, making OSHA’s definition seem even more arbitrary. 

“In light of the inability to define, diagnose or determine the cause of MSDs with any degree of precision, the logical conclusion, mandated by the applicable Occupational Safety and Health Act criteria, is that OSHA must acknowledge the limitations it faces in drafting a workable MSD provision and ultimately abandon the NPRM,” ABC stated in its comments. 

ABC also objected to OSHA’s assertion that the NPRM would not impose a significant hardship on businesses.  ABC noted that the proposed rule would force employers to make determinations that go beyond their abilities and would require employers to ask extensive questions about an employee’s private life in order to determine whether the injury met the definition of recordable.  As a result, ABC said that there would likely be an increase in inaccurate and misleading data that could result in the misallocation of resources by both OSHA and the employer.  In addition, ABC pointed out that OSHA’s cost estimates of the proposed rule of $4.00 per employer in the first year and 67 cents each year following are significantly understated and that there is no real-world basis for that determination. 

ABC called the NPRM misleading from a procedural standpoint as well, citing OSHA’s rushed consultation with the Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH), which reviewed the rule in a much shorter time period than the 270 days required by regulations. 

In addition to filing individual comments, ABC joined several other employer groups in opposing the proposed rule.  ABC expressed concern that data collected through the proposed rule, although likely inaccurate and misleading, would result in a mandatory ergonomics standard. 

For more information and to read ABC’s comments, visit www.abc.org/comments.