OSHA withdrawal of MSD rule applauded

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – Winslow Sargeant, chief counsel for the Office of Advocacy of the US Small Business Administration, applauded a decision by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to withdraw, at least temporarily, from the Office of Management and Budget review a proposed rule to require employers to report work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on their OSHA 300 Logs (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).

OSHA said it took this action to seek greater input from small businesses on the impact of the proposal and will do so through outreach in partnership with the US Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.

"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," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "However, it is clear that the proposal has raised concern among small businesses, so OSHA is facilitating an active dialogue between the agency and the small business community."

MSDs accounted for 28% of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The proposed rule would not change existing requirements about when and under what circumstances employers must record 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

The temporary withdrawal of the rule will allow Advocacy and OSHA to convene a stakeholder meeting to garner additional input from small businesses on this important issue.

“When it comes to crafting federal regulations, the input of small business is invaluable.” Sargeant said. “This Advocacy-OSHA meeting on MSD reporting will provide the opportunity for small businesses to voice their concerns on this critical issue, For over 30 years the Office of Advocacy has worked on behalf of small businesses to ensure that their voice is heard within the federal rule making process.”

Advocacy filed comments on OSHA’s purposed rule on March 30, recommending that OSHA reassess its cost assumptions concerning this rule. Advocacy and OSHA are working together to develop the meeting agenda and how interested parties can participate. Details will be provided when they become available.

The Office of Advocacy is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. The presidentially appointed chief counsel for advocacy advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policymakers.
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