NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

OSHA Ergonomics Rule Fell On The Evidence

March 20, 2001

The decision by Congress and the Bush administration to scrap the enormously expensive ergonomics rule proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration left labor union leaders sputtering. But many experts applauded the move -- citing the fact that employers find it in their own interest to constantly improve workplace safety.

  • An American worker's chance of dying on the job today is one-third what it was just 20 years ago.
  • Occupational injuries in the private sector have declined by 29 percent just since 1980.
  • Between 1992 and 1997, the number of ergonomic injuries dropped by 22 percent.
  • The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that the average worker is eight times safer on the job than off.

Employers have plenty of incentive to address safety concerns on their own. It costs them an average of $28,000 each time a worker suffers a disabling injury, according to the NSC. The costs include lost productivity, training, medical expenses and new recruiting.

Also, workers will always prefer a safer job over one with greater risks -- unless employers agree to pay more to compensate for the greater risks. So employers have good reason to reduce or eliminate potential hazards.

Source: Steve Chapman, "Seeking the Right Amount of Safety," Washington Times, March 20, 2001.


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