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The repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) ergonomics regulation in March takes the pressure off the health care industry — and nearly every other industry in the country — to put in place programs aimed at reducing workplace injuries.
The rules sought to make corporations focus far more on addressing the most common workplace injuries in the nation, including repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition typically affects workers — including access personnel — who use computers. Access managers were expected to be heavily involved in implementing programs in response to the OSHA rule, which be came effective in January. The sweeping regulation met with a partisan defeat in Congress.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has said she intends to pursue a comprehensive approach to ergonomics that may include new rule-making.
When OSHA, a branch of the Department of Labor, issued the rules in November, it said they would cost $4.5 billion to implement, but would save businesses $9 billion a year in increased productivity and fewer sick days. Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, the Republican whip and sponsor of the repeal effort, called the OSHA estimates "hogwash," insisting the rules would cost far more to implement than they would save.