Michigan Senate Approves Measure To Prohibit Ergonomics Regulation

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The Michigan Senate has approved legislation that would prohibit the state occupational safety and health plan from promulgating an ergonomics regulation.

The bill (S.B. 20), approved Feb. 10 by a vote of 25-12 largely along party lines with Republicans in favor, comes after the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration ceased worked on its ergonomics proposal at the direction of new Gov. Rick Snyder (R). Republicans hold majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

Industry associations within Michigan have opposed MIOSHA's plan to develop a regulation for general industry, pointing to studies that said such a rule could cost employers millions of dollars in an already weak economy, while the state's unions have described the proposal as one that would increase safety and save worker's compensation costs. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce called for the bill's passage to prevent a future administration from working on an ergonomics regulation (41 OSHR 91, 2/3/11).

Action on the legislation now moves to the House, where an identical bill (H.B. 4128) was introduced Jan. 20 by Rep. Brad Jacobsen (R-46th District) and referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform. A committee vote was scheduled for Feb. 16, and it is expected to pass, with full consideration by the House by the next week, Jacobsen told BNA Feb. 15.

'Vital Measure' to Save Jobs.

“I'm glad this vital measure to save Michigan jobs was approved,” Sen. Rick Jones (R-24th District), who introduced the Senate version, said in a written statement. “Ensuring Michigan job providers are not burdened with unnecessary mandates is a priority for me and Gov. Snyder. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House on this bill.”

A joint commission approved a draft rule in 2009, and MIOSHA had been awaiting a regulatory impact statement for the draft that is being developed by an outside contractor before moving forward.

Had the agency finalized the rule, Michigan would have become the second state, along with California, to have an ergonomics regulation. The U.S. Congress rescinded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's ergonomics rule under the Congressional Review Act before it could take effect in 2001.

By Greg Hellman

S.B. 20 is available at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billengrossed/Senate/pdf/2011-SEBS-0020.pdf.

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