The federal government’s off-again, on-again proposal regarding reporting of sprains, RSI and other musculoskeletal disorders is on again.
The rule would require no additional paperwork and would not change which injuries are reported, or when.
The proposal essentially boils down to restoring a check-off box on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Form 300 Injury and Illness log. OSHA wants to restore the column (removed in 2003) for employers to check if a case they are already required to record is a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). Employers would also be required to total those check-offs on their Form 300A annual summary.
OSHA proposed the rule Jan. 29, 2010, as a revision to its Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements.
|The rule would add a check-off column to OSHA’s Form 300.|
The rule would not change when or under what circumstances employers must record work-related injuries and illnesses. The only additional requirement would be for an employer to mark the MSD column box on the OSHA 300 log if a case it already has recorded meets the definition of an MSD.
The rule defines an MSD as a disorder of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage or spinal discs that was not caused by a slip, trip, fall, motor vehicle accident or similar accident. The term covers sprains, repetitive strain injuries, overuse injuries, back problems and much more.
MSDs account for 28% of all workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work, according to OSHA. It estimates that 1.505 million recordable MSDs occur annually among 1.542 million affected establishments. The agency estimates the annual cost of the rule at $1.7 million for all establishments combined.
Small businesses and organizations, including the American Subcontractors Association, protested that the rule would be overly burdensome and that stakeholders had not had the opportunity to provide input.
In January 2011, OSHA temporarily withdrew the plan. In April, OSHA and the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy co-sponsored a series of teleconferences to gain business feedback on the proposal. Representatives of 16 small businesses participated, according to OSHA’s 36-page summary of the teleconferences.
Some participants said the rule required very little effort on the part of employers, but others felt that the determination process for whether to record an injury was more burdensome than OSHA has said. For example, some noted that regular employees, not medical personnel, normally completed the injury record logs. They also discussed the challenge of determining with certainty whether an injury was work related.
Participants were divided on whether the rule would be beneficial in minimizing future injuries.
‘A Useful Tool’
OSHA appears ready to move forward, however, calling the column “a useful tool” in evaluating national occupational injury and illness statistics and in helping the agency make policy.
OSHA also said the information would help employers and employees “identify and address potential safety and health hazards.”
OSHA did say it was “strongly considering” retaining language that would not classify “minor musculoskeletal discomfort” as a recordable item if a health-care professional determined that the employee could perform all of his or her job functions.
Recordable cases are generally those that are new, work-related and involve medical treatment beyond first aid, restricted work or days away from work.
OSHA is seeking follow-up comments by June 16 on the issues raised during the teleconferences.
“OSHA is eager to hear from the public on this, and every, proposed rule,” said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA secretary.
“The more feedback the agency receives from small businesses on this topic, the better informed we will be in crafting a proposed regulation that protects workers without overburdening employers.”