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PIA Urges the Senate to Give Voluntary Ergonomics Guidelines a Chance to Work

Press release from the issuing company

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (June 3, 2002) – The Printing Industries of America (PIA), a trade association that represent over 13,000 printers in the manufacturing sector, urges the Senate to oppose S. 2184, introduced by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA). S. 2184 would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to return to the same or an even more onerous ergonomics standard than the one Congress overturned in March 2001. That standard would have cost the industry between $10,000 and $200,000 per printing facility according to the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF). Earlier this year, OSHA announced a program to permit industries to seek approval of voluntary guidelines that can reduce injuries. PIA is a strong advocate of voluntary compliance and targeted ergonomics plans. Currently, PIA/GATF is working on a voluntary guideline to address workplace ergonomic injuries in post-press areas and has had a number of discussions with OSHA in that regard. "A one-size-fits-all standard is not likely to significantly reduce injuries in printing. It is far better that we develop job specific solutions. It will mean fewer workers' compensation costs to employers and fewer injuries to workers in our member companies," said Wendy Lechner, Senior Director for Federal Employment Policy at PIA. On June 12th, the Senate HELP Committee is expected to mark-up S. 2184, a bill that would require a punitive mandatory ergonomics standard within two years. Since the previous standard was withdrawn, much of the scientific evidence upon which the standard was based has proven to be faulty. For instance, it has been found that job satisfaction is a larger predictor of ergonomics complaints than the mechanical features of the job. "The Breaux legislation is the wrong approach at the wrong time," said Lechner. "We need a reasonable amount of time to permit industry guidelines to prove their utility. We have a tremendous opportunity to proactively seek solutions. The Breaux bill only endangers our chances of success when we need to devote our attention and resources to true improvements in the industry." S. 2184, on the other hand, would mean a prescriptive list of items that every employer would have to put in place simply to comply with the standard even it does do nothing to improve safety. Huge sums of money would be spent on ineffective solutions instead of targeting resources to true hazards. "The printing industry is in an excellent position to use voluntary guidelines to reduce injuries," said Lechner, "The Senate is jumping the gun, and the result could be huge unnecessary costs to companies and job losses in the industry."

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