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OSHA Urges National Ergonomics Rules

February 21, 1999| Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Employers should take steps to prevent certain on-the-job stress injuries, such as carpal-tunnel syndrome and back strains, OSHA said Friday in proposing industry standards.

If approved, the standards could force certain employers--mainly in the industrial sector--to alter workstations, redesign facilities or change tools and equipment.

Setting a national standard would alleviate the burden on multistate businesses from complying with "a patchwork quilt of different ergonomics rules in different states," Occupational Safety and Health Administration Administrator Charles N. Jeffress said.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged OSHA to wait for the National Academy of Sciences to finish its study on whether there is a scientific basis for national ergonomics standards.

"This hopelessly vague draft is a blank check for OSHA inspectors," said Peter Eide of the chamber.

The proposed rules would apply primarily to industrial jobs such as meatpacking and package handling. But office workers who perform repetitive-motion tasks such as operating a computer keyboard could be included.

The draft is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.

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