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Updated on 1/5/99 - 9:48:00 AM EST

Oregon OSHA Withdraws Ergonomics Proposals

Due to an overwhelming public response, Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has withdrawn proposed rule changes that trucking company owners feared would have increased enforcement powers and required them to address ergonomic hazards.

The proposed changes would have affected Oregon OSHA’s Division 1 regulations, which are the overall administrative rules for the entire agency.

Oregon OSHA decided it had made a mistake after the public comment period generated more concern than it had bargained for.

"Much of what we learned from our discussions with stakeholders was that we needed to provide more time and opportunity for input," said Peter DeLuca, the Administrator of Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division. "We made a mistake by not involving them in the drafting of these rules."

Industry groups like the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America and the Oregon Trucking Assn. objected to the changes, saying they appeared to increase OSHA’s enforcement powers while decreasing employer’s rights. AGC feared this would increase confrontation and decrease cooperation, but do nothing to improve workplace safety and health.

One aspect of the proposed changes that was especially troublesome to trucking interests were provisions that would have increased Oregon OSHA’s ability to cite employers for ergonomic hazards and would have required some employers to implement ergonomics programs, said Stuart Flatow, occupational safety director for the American Trucking Associations. ATA believes that there is not enough scientific evidence to write an effective ergonomics rule.

"In general, these administrative rule changes are not standards, but they’re being used in way to promulgate new ergonomics requirements," said Mr. Flatow.

Oregon OSHA has said it will create a stakeholder work group of employer, labor and state representatives in early January to draft a new proposal. The work group’s first meeting will be on January 13.

By Jeff Johnson
Staff Reporter

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