OSHA reg goes into effect in January; ATA plans to sue A federal regulation on musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), which could include injuries sustained by truck drivers and warehouse workers, goes into effect January 16, 2001. Often referred to as the ergonomics rule, it is usually associated with injuries caused by repetitive movements, over-stretching or lifting objects improperly. All U.S. workers are affected except those in the construction, maritime, agriculture and railroad industries.

Ten years in the making, the ruling from the Labor Dept.'s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers take steps to prevent MSDs by educating their employees and changing working conditions when necessary. OSHA estimates that the ruling, which could result in alterations to 18-million jobs over the next ten years, will cut the 460,000 MSD injuries reported annually in half, as well as an equal number that are not reported.

The government also estimates that the rule will cost employers about $4.5 billion a year on training, administration and workplace changes. Theoretically, that will be more than offset by nationwide savings of more than $9 billion annually in medical costs, lost work days, accidents and work stoppages.

A number of industry groups disagree with these figures, and the American Trucking Assns. plans to file a lawsuit when the rule is published,.in an attempt to have it overturned.