IR # 97-23
Thursday, April 17, 1997

Rick Rice
Louis Bonsignore
(415) 972-8835

Ergonomics Standard Readopted

Sacramento -- The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted today to readopt a proposed regulation to protect workers from work-related repetitive motion injuries (RMIs). The regulation, which is required by statute, was first adopted in November, 1996. California's administrative oversight agency, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) disapproved the regulation in January, 1997 and gave the Standards Board 120 days to address its concern for a more clear format and terminology.

The Standards Board today adopted a revised proposal to meet the OAL concerns. It did so without significantly altering the intent of its original proposal. The readopted proposal will now be resubmitted to OAL for revaluation and final approval is expected in June, 1997.

"With the readoption of this revised standard and the attention to the concerns of the OAL, the Standards Board today continues its commitment to a regulation that is effective and easy to read, understand and implement" said Jere Ingram, Chair of the Standards Board.

The proposal continues to focus on worksites where RMI problems exist and does not impose an economic or regulatory burden on worksites where there are no reported problems. The regulation will protect employees and allow employers to minimize RMIs by establishing a program that contains the basic health and safety elements of worksite evaluation, control and employee training.

"By readopting this regulation, the Standards Board has continued to fulfill its legislative mandate regarding RMIs," added Chairman Ingram. "With differences of opinion on the nature and extent of how ergonomics should be regulated, legal challenges have already been filed. However, we believe we have addressed OAL's concerns and are confident that the revised regulation will withstand any legal challenge."

On Friday, April 11, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James T. Ford ruled that the Standards Board can continue to complete the administrative rulemaking process of readopting the regulation and resubmitting it to the OAL. The California AFL-CIO and others had sought to disallow certain aspects of the proposed standard prior to the final steps of the process. Judge Ford ruled that such legal challenges could not proceed until the rulemaking process was completed and the regulation approved by the OAL.

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