Advocacy Recommends That OSHA Reassess the Costs of its Proposed MSD Reporting Rule on Small Business

On March 30, 2010, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) submitted comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on OSHA’s Proposed Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements Rule (MSD Reporting Rule). [75 Fed. Reg. 4728 (January 29, 2010].  OSHA’s proposed rule would require employers with 10 or more employees (unless exempt) to record certain work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in their OSHA 300 Log.  An OSHA 300 Log is a record of work-related injuries and illnesses that certain employers are required to maintain.

MSDs are defined by OSHA as disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs (e.g., carpal tunnel and rotator cuff syndrome, herniated spinal disc, low back pain, etc.), but do not include disorders caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, or other similar accidents.  The agency states that the proposed rule would simply require employers to check a new MSD box on their OSHA 300 Log and that employers are already required to report this information on the current form.  As such, OSHA concludes that compliance with the proposed rule would involve five minutes per employer to become familiar with the new rule and one minute per MSD injury or illness to check the new box.

A complete copy of Advocacy’s letter to OSHA is available at www.sba.gov/advo/laws/comments/, but here is a summary of the main points:

  • Small business representatives believe that OSHA has understated the cost and complexity of complying with the proposed rule.  For example, many small businesses will have to hire attorneys and consultants to advise and train them on the new requirements, engage in additional consultation with the employee, consult with medical professionals, and make complex medical evaluations they are not qualified to make.
  • Small business representatives are concerned that small businesses could be held in violation of OSHA recordkeeping rules if they misdiagnose and improperly record a MSD.  Others noted that many small businesses do not have qualified human resource specialists on staff as OSHA assumes in its analysis.
  •  OSHA certified under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) that the proposed rule will not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.  Accordingly, the agency did not convene a small business review panel (commonly known as a “SBREFA Panel”) to consider the impact of the proposed rule.  However, based on small business concerns about the proposed rule, Advocacy recommends that OSHA reassess its cost assumptions and RFA certification before proceeding.

 For more information about the proposed rule, please visit Advocacy’s Web page at www.sba.gov/advo or contact Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel, at (202) 205-6144 (or bruce.lundegren@sba.gov).

9 Comments
  1. Lynne Hamilton says

    As a business owner who markets a product specifically designed to prevent MSD from strains and lifting, I’m not sure which side I should be on here.
    I certainly don’t want SB owners to have additional grief – but on the other hand those injuries caused by the “other” categories than fall, trip,etc.. are real, and are currently hard to report.
    I think they are trying to create a category to address this. Perhaps the incident rerport could be funneled to the insurance comapny for a determination of this sort. I don’t mean to sound ignorant of MSD issues – (I am, but) I have this concept of the responsibility rolled over to the claims department. If the SB owner had a simple multiple choice with a short narrative description – the actual incident could be investigated, just as currently happens for trip and fall. I don’t believe it HAS to be cumbersome for the SB owner, however, I’ve worked in and dealt w/govt enough to know that it probably will be!

  2. Li Ma Chicago says

    As a small business owner for many years, I do think this is a very interesting topic to be brought up. However, as the above comment says, I am not sure which side of this debate I will be on. on side, I really don’t want to see any more pressure on the SB owners. In contrast, I do hope we will have a well developed system for reporting purposes.

  3. OSHA 10 and 30 says

    OSHA is proposing to revise its Occupational Injury and
    Illness Recording and Reporting (Recordkeeping) regulation to restore a
    column to the OSHA 300 Log that employers would use to record work-
    related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The 2001 Recordkeeping final
    regulation included an MSD column, but the requirement was deleted
    before the regulation became effective. This proposed rule would
    require employers to place a check mark in the MSD column, instead of
    the column they currently mark, if a case is an MSD that meets the
    Recordkeeping regulation’s general recording requirements.

  4. pru life insurance says

    Can you please clarify weather RSI (repetitive strain injury) falls under the same category as MSD. Our business has a large number of IT and data entry employees and we loose significant number of work hours during the year to these problems.

  5. orange county public records says

    how will the new OSHA rules affect small businesses in the future?

  6. John Bates says

    As a SB owner I can say that I’m not for this change. The list of things we have to report and comply with is so long already. Though this “small” change may not seem like much, when coupled with the other things we have to do each day/week/month/year it’s a big deal to us SB owners. Let the policymakers deal with things like this personally and they’d think twice about such changes.

  7. Robert Rogers says

    The key is creating an understandable and viable method for small businesses so that they can manage the administrative costs associated with compliance.

  8. OSHA 10 says

    OSHA is proposing to revise its Occupational Injury and
    Illness Recording and Reporting (Recordkeeping) regulation to restore a column to the OSHA 300 Log that employers would use to record work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The 2001 Recordkeeping final
    regulation included an MSD column, but the requirement was deleted before the regulation became effective. This proposed rule would require employers to place a check mark in the MSD column, instead of the column they currently mark, if a case is an MSD that meets the
    Recordkeeping regulation’s general recording requirements.

    That’s better….

  9. Victor says

    As a small business owner, I agree with Lynne.

Comments are closed.