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In a move that could have an adverse impact on home builders, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed in the Jan. 29 Federal Register to add a new column on musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) to the work-related injuries and illnesses employers are required to report.
Under OSHA’s Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting (Recordkeeping) regulation, employers would check off MSD injuries in a new column being added to the OSHA 300 Log.
“OSHA’s definition of musculoskeletal disorders is too broad and will likely lead to recording situations where there is not an actual injury or it is not work-related,” said NAHB Construction Safety and Health Committee Chairman Ray Rhodes, a home builder from Sanford, N.C. “It will also result in additional cost to employers and have a negative impact on the ability of our members to provide affordable housing to Americans.”
The proposed reporting column does not provide enough specific information about the nature of the injury or illness, NAHB said in comments submitted to OSHA on March 30, as each MSD has uniquely independent risk factors, causes and solutions.
MSDs are disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints cartilage and spinal discs. Examples include Carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome, sciatica, tendinitis, carpet layers knee, herniated spinal disc and lower-back pain. Disorders caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents or other similar accidents are not included in the definition.
OSHA also wants employers to record as MSDs “pain, tingling, burning, numbness or any other subjective symptoms of an MSD.”
NAHB opposes the requirement because subjective symptoms as described by OSHA are perceptible only to the employee, forcing the employer to make a diagnosis that only qualified medical personnel should make. Employers may also have to undertake extensive investigations — and possibly violate privacy laws — by delving into an employee’s private medical history in order to determine whether an injury was actually work-related.
NAHB said that OSHA’s definition of MSDs should not include references to subjective symptoms and should be limited to conditions that can be objectively verified and confirmed to be work-related.
OSHA has underestimated the financial impact of the rule on businesses, NAHB added. For example, many builders who operate in multiple areas and use proprietary tracking databases would have to modify their existing software at a substantial cost.
NAHB urged the agency to convene the Small Business Advocacy Review Panel to solicit further input on the rule.
An MSD column was included in the final recordkeeping regulation in 2001, but it was eliminated before the regulation went into effect.
NAHB provides members and others in the residential construction industry with information, guidance and access to training resources to help them protect employees' health and safety. A variety of safety resources and guidebooks, including the English-Spanish NAHB Fall Protection Handbook and Fall Protection Video, are available through www.builderbooks.com/safety.
In an effort to increase job site safety and reduce the chance of job related accidents, NAHB has produced the “Fall Protection Video, English-Spanish” and “NAHB-OSHA Fall Protection Handbook, English-Spanish.”
Both are available through BuilderBooks.com.
The 30-minute “Fall Protection Video, English-Spanish” can be used by builders to train workers to use safe work practices that eliminate fall hazards and comply with OSHA fall-protection standards.
The “NAHB-OSHA Fall Protection Handbook, English-Spanish” provides guidelines for creating a written fall-protection plan and identifying safe work practices that can prevent costly accidents and injuries. Written with clear text, photographs and illustrations, the book serves as a user-friendly resource for promoting safety on any job site.
To purchase the handbook and video online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.