A NEW STUDY IN BRITAIN SUGGESTS THAT CONSTRUCTION workers are at far more risk of developing repetitive strain injuries (RSI) on the job than office workers. In fact, the study by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy found workers on construction jobsites are five times more likely to suffer from neck pain and upper limb disorders such as tennis elbow than people who sit at a computer station all day.
It's unlikely, however, that the new findings will ripple across the Atlantic to trigger new OSHA rules here. That door was slammed shut about three years ago. Back in 1999, BUILDER reported on a draft of sweeping new OSHA regulations related to RSI and muscular-skeletal disorders. The proposed rules sent shock waves through not only the home building industry, where complaints of such injuries were rampant, but also offices (including our own), where off-site employees were warned that they might be in trouble if the workplace rules became mandatory.
But when the current administration entered Washington in 2000, President Bush quickly signed something called the Congressional Review Act Resolution for Disapproval to repeal the OSHA Ergonomics Program Standard final rule. That resolution, along with votes in both the House and Senate to repeal the ergonomics final rule, effectively killed it dead—so dead, in fact, that the program can't legally be resurrected. A new one has to be started from scratch.
The states of California and Washington have leapfrogged federal inaction on ergonomics by creating their own rules. But in November 2003, Washington's BIA, along with many other business groups, successfully brought the initiative before voters. The public voted down the mandatory rules.