NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Revised Estimates Find Ergonomics Rule More Costly

November 7, 2000

The Clinton administration's repetitive stress injury (ergonomic) regulation, expected to be finalized within 10 days by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and Office of Management and the Budget (OMB), may be even more expensive than previously estimated, says the Employment Policy Foundation. Furthermore, the rule has set procedural speed-records for adoption of a regulation.

Ergonomics regulations were at the heart of disagreement last week between Congress and the White House over annual spending bills. With that stalemate, the Administration is pushing forward with its regulation in its final days, in order to force the next president to undo the rules, if he so chooses.

  • After examining 2,000 pages of new data OSHA inserted into the record so late that it was impossible for interested parties to officially comment, the Employment Policy Foundation has found the regulation will cost $125.6 billion per year to business -- $35 billion more than it previously estimated.
  • The higher costs can be attributed to the new empirical data submitted by OSHA that found that the average job fix per affected employee to be over $2,000 -- over three times higher than OSHA's original estimate.
  • In addition, EPF analyzed OSHA's past practices for adopting regulations, finding that since 1988 the average time OSHA has spent per rule has been over 4 years (1,582 days).
  • With the ergonomics regulation finalized in just under one year, OSHA has beat its previous average by a factor of four -- for a rule that involves broader applicability, has a bigger economic cost and amassed a larger record of public comments (almost 2,000 records) than any of the 28 prior OSHA regulations.

Source: "OSHA's Record-Breaking Ergonomics Rule Moves Toward Final Stage," Policy Backgrounder, November 6, 2000," Employment Policy Foundation, 1015 15th Street, N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20005, (202) 789-8685.


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