Michigan: Senator introduces bill to block state-mandated ergonomics standard
Sponsored by Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond, S. 93 would prohibit the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration from establishing rules that govern ergonomics programs and work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Voluntary guidelines, however, would remain permissible but cannot be more stringent than federal guidelines.
Earlier this year, the state's General Industry Safety Standards Commission and the Occupational Health Standards Commission voted unanimously to approve the regulations, which would make Michigan and California the only two states to adopt an ergonomics standard. Similar efforts were derailed in 2006.
Sanborn said Gov. Jennifer Granholm's push for an ergonomics standard would severely harm the viability of Michigan's employers.
"Michigan's economy remains the worst in the nation, and if we're serious about recovery, we need to enact this bill," he said. "Despite the lack of evidence that these rules are necessary, the administration has spent more than six years crafting mandatory standards. It's just plain bad policy but to foist this on us during a recession borders on negligence."
Employer groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business, have come out against the standard, urging lawmakers not to heap new mandates on employers at a time when many are struggling.
"Michigan's rule as drafted would be the toughest in the nation and another reason not to do business in Michigan," said Charlie Owens, state director of the NFIB's Michigan bureau.
Sanborn said voluntary standards would produce the best results, noting that Michigan's MSD rate has decreased nearly 40 percent since 1998 without mandated ergonomics rules.
The bill now heads to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.
March 23, 2009
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