OSHA has revised its recordkeeping regulation to restore a column on its OSHA 300 Log for employers to record work-related injuries involving musculoskeletal disorders (“MSDs”). MSDs are defined as “disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs.” MSDs include a host of repetitive injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, disc herniations and low back pain. OSHA originally implemented the column in 2001 and had proposed a voluminous ergonomics standard on MSDs. However, both the column and the proposed ergonomics standard were rescinded in 2003.
OSHA will require affected employers who have to report injuries on OSHA 300 Logs to start using the MSD column on January 1, 2011. Affected employers are those with ten or more employees at some time in the year and, generally, not be in one of several low-hazard industries identified by OSHA.
Although OSHA explained that it is simply attempting to gather data regarding work-related MSDs, we believe that the reinstitution of the column for MSDs will give OSHA additional information to cite employers for having unsafe practices causing MSDs under the OSH Act’s “general duty” clause. We also expect that OSHA will again try to promulgate a new ergonomics standard to prevent MSDs.