WASHINGTON, D.C. - With issuance of the final rule on an ergonomics standard by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) on November 14,the Air Conditioning Contractors of America filed a petition for review of the rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on November 29.
ACCA has been joined by nearly 70 other trade associations and companies in challenging the rule because it not only fails to establish a connection between musculoskeletal injuries and workplace activities, according to John Saucier, chairman of ACCA's Government Relations Task Team and President of Temperature Inc. of Memphis, Tenn. "This is a bad regulation that will cost billions of dollars and put thousands of jobs at risk while not guaranteeing that a single injury will be prevented," he continued.
ACCA has urged OSHA to wait for scientific evidence to justify the regulation but in the nearly 20 years the rule has been in development, it has failed to do so, said Saucier. ACCA, the nation's largest association of heating ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors, testified against the proposal at a public hearing OSHA held in February.
The rule becomes effective January 15, barring further congressional, administrative or legal action with compliance enforcement scheduled to begin October 15. According to attorneys on the case, it is expected to take more than a year before a court might rule on the validity of the standard.
In separate actions, insurance companies and unions have also filed court challenges. Insurers believe the rule's compensation provisions conflict with OSHA's legal authority to mandate compensation payments. These payments are the province of the states.
Led by the AFL-CIO, several unions have asked for judicial review because the worker safeguards and medical treatment are not triggered until there is an injury. They believe the employer should act to eliminate a hazard before a worker is injured. "The problem with that," Saucier said, "is we don't have the scientific evidence to clearly identify an ergonomic workplace hazard."