NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Costly Ergonomics Rule Is Near

September 22, 2000

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to issue a final rule implementing its controversial Ergonomics Program Standard by year-end despite overwhelming evidence the proposal will impose costs far in excess of benefits, says the Employment Policy Foundation.

The final procedural hurdle for the rule will be a review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) beginning in October prior to publication of a Final Rule Notice.

  • The Employment Policy Foundation estimates first year compliance costs at $129.5 billion and continuing costs equivalent to $91.4 billion.
  • Based on OSHA's estimate of benefit per case averted, the EPF estimates costs will exceed benefits by a factor of 15 to 1.
  • The costs could cut corporate earnings per share by 5 percent, and stifle incentives for new business starts.

The ergonomics rule will be the costliest workplace regulation in history, says the EPF. One reason is that it is a "zero tolerance" rule. A single complaint from a worker would trigger the rule, requiring an employer to add new layers of ergonomic controls indefinitely.

OSHA already has a potentially more costly rule on the drawing board -- the Safety and Health Programs Standard, expected to be announced next winter.

Source: Ronald E. Bird, "$91 Billion Ergonomics Proposal Nears Final Action," Cost Study, September 20, 2000, Employment Policy Foundation, 1015 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20005, (202) 789-8685.


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