Key Differences Between Regulations
There are a wide variety of types of regulations and alternatives to regulations. Some jurisdictions enforce ergonomics through general duty clauses (e.g. Ontario, New Zealand). Others use codes of practice to specify requirements in general performance based regulations (including the United Kingdom, Australia). Some regulations set a minimum standard (such as the European Union directives). Others are specific to activities (such as manual handling), rather than general initiatives to reduce injuries. Many guidelines and some regulations use an ergonomics program approach involving a number of components such as surveillance, identification, assessment and control of risks, education, etc. (e.g. British Columbia, OSHA).
A small number include specifications for manufacturers, designers, importers, suppliers, and those involved with building design and management. The purpose of many is to reduce the number and severity of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs); others focus on reducing specific “risks” associated with MSDs, and still others focus on design of machinery and components (European Economic Community – EEC).
Likewise, there are wide differences in enforcement activities, largely depending upon the priorities of individual jurisdictions and whether there is a specific focus on ergonomics or work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The degree of enforcement also depends on the number, availability, and training of inspectors, and to some degree, cultural differences. For example, in Scandinavia there is little need for enforcement activities as employers tend to follow the rules. By contrast, in the U.S., enforcement activities frequently end up being litigated in the courts.
Only the United Kingdom and Victoria province (Australia) have formally evaluated their regulations and codes of practice. The results are generally favorable, although knowledge and implementation of the regulations is more likely for medium-sized and larger organizations than small employers.
Are you in Compliance?
Generally, if an organization is practicing “due diligence” with respect to Occupational Health and Safety – that is, identifying, assessing and controlling risks of injury – it would likely comply with most regulations that cover ergonomics issues. Remember, Job hazard analysis is key to identifying hazards specific to the job you are assigned, and the controls required for conducting the job safely.
Share This Article
Subscribe to our RSS Feed. What is RSS?