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Assignment Questions

OSHA and Unions versus Manufacturers: Is Workplace

You are to write a 1-page paper. After reading the Case Study you are to answer discussion question at the end of the case study. You are to state the question first and then continue to answer .Do Not Use Outside Sources.

OSHA and Unions versus Manufacturers: Is Workplace

Ergonomics a Problem?
During the Industrial Revolution a century ago, workplace injuries were so commonplace that they were simply considered one of the hazards of having a job. Children and adults were often maimed or disfigured in factory accidents. Today strict regulations cover safetyin the workplace, guided by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). During the past couple of decades, as industry itself has changed, a different type of injury has emerged: musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs are injuries resulting from overexertion and repetitive motion, such as constantly lifting heavy loads or grabbing and twisting a piece of machinery. People who said a computer stations all day are susceptible to MSDs as well, particularly carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the nerves of the hand, wrist, an arm. According to OSHA, about one third of repetitive stress injuries, or 600,000, are seriously enough to require time off the job, which means that businesses, is paying for these injuries not only in medical costs but in lost productivity. They can also contribute to high employee turnover. No one disputes that these injuries occur. But various experts, industry leaders, and politicians argue about how severe these injuries are, who should pay for them, what should be done about them, and who takes ultimate responsibility for the safety of workers. One aspect of the whole issue of workplace injuries is ergonomics: the applied science of equipment design, intended to reduce operator fatigue and discomfort, or as OSHA puts it, the science of fitting the job to the worker. Ergonomics involves everything from developing new equipment, including desk chairs that support the back properly and flexible splints to support the wrist while typing, to designing better ways to use the equipment, such as a proper way to hold a computer mouse.
OSHA has proposed new guidelines for better ergonomic standards, targeting jobs where workers perform repetitive tasks, whether they are in processing poultry or delivering packages. The proposal required employers that received reports from the workers who were suffering from MSDs to respond promptly with an evaluation and follow-up health care. Workers who needed time off could receive 90 percent of their pay and 100 percent of their benefits. Not surprisingly, arguments for and against the proposal broke out. OSHA spokesperson Charles Jeffers claimed that the guidelines will save employers $9 billion every year from what they have currently been spending on these problems. Peggy Seninario of the AFL-CIO noted that the guidelines did not go far enough because they do not cover workers in construction, agriculture, or maritime, who have very serious problems. Patricia Clearly of the National Association of Manufacturers argued that there is a central flaw here and that is that there is no… consensus in the scientific or medical community about the causes of ergonomics injuries. Debates over the proposed rules’ merit were further clouded by the Small Business Administration’s prediction that implementing standards would cost the industries $18 billion. OSHA had forecast a mere $4.2 billion. Just before he left office, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law which was overturned by incoming President George Bush and the new Congress. Calling the workplace safety regulations unduly burdensome and overly broad, Bush signed a measure to roll back the new rules. Where do these actions leave workers and businesses in regard to workplace injuries? Legally, businesses are not required to redesign work systems or continue full pay and benefits for an extended period after work related injury. But if the goal of a company is to find and keep the best employees, perhaps developing good ergonomic practices makes good business sense. The high cost of treatment and turnover, not to mention lowered productivity, points toward prevention as a competitive strategy. Good ergonomics in the office should not be a big burden in Company and may be a way to retain good employees.

Discussion Question

Do you agree or disagree that ergonomics in the workplace should be covered by federal regulations?

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