Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Michigan Still Slogging Forward On Ergo Standard

Michigan business association representatives are not happy that the Governor Granholm's state OSHA is still working on an ergonomics standard after the legislature tried to rescind the ergonomic committee's funding.

They're so mad that they're trying to take their ball and go home. Unfortunately, the game is going on without them.
A state ergonomics advisory committee that has been meeting for two years is on at least its 10th draft of proposed rules that would govern how employers must identify and address conditions that could put workers at risk for job-related injuries caused by repetitive motion, force and other factors.

Business lobbyists say the committee's work violates a business-requested provision in the recently approved 2006 Department of Labor and Economic Growth budget that prohibits the use of state funds to develop mandates more stringent than federal voluntary ergonomics guidelines.

At least two business/industry representatives have resigned from the ergonomics advisory committee in protest.

Amy Shaw, director of education and employment relations for the Michigan Manufacturers Association, resigned in protest over the committee's continuing to work despite the budget prohibition. But Greg Bird, a spokesman for the state budget office, says the budget provision is unenforceable because it attempts to amend Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration practices through a budget bill, rather than through MIOSHA law.

Last year, Charlie Owens, director of the National Federation of Independent Business-Michigan, resigned, saying he "could not participate in an exercise that will result in one of the most far-reaching and burdensome regulations on small business and all business in this state."

The committee started taking shape in 2002 under former [Republican] Gov. John Engler. The advisory committee has more than a dozen representatives from business, labor and other interests.
And then we have the same old tired job blackmail argument:
“I feel very, very strongly that if we were to put in a Michigan-specific ergonomics rule, we might as well put up a big stop sign to businesses, that says, ‘Don’t bring your jobs to Michigan,’ ” Jones said. He said he plans to introduce legislation prohibiting the state from enacting the ergonomics rules.
Well, if you feel that strongly that Michigan would be put at a disadvantage if it was the only state (besides California) with an ergonoimics standard, then the logical solution would be to have a national standard.

Oh, oops, we actually had one of those, but you guys killed it.

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