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New Recordkeeping Rule Still on Schedule

Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao, announced in late June that an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule on recordkeeping would largely go into effect as scheduled on January 1, 2002.

The final recordkeeping rule is the culmination of an effort that began in the 1980s to improve how the government tracks occupational injuries and illnesses. The rule increases employee involvement, creates simpler forms and gives employers more flexibility to use computers to meet OSHA regulatory requirements.

The Department will seek comment on two proposed modifications to the rule's recordkeeping requirements. First, the Department will propose that the criteria for recording work-related hearing loss not be implemented for one year pending further investigation into the level of hearing loss that should be recorded as a "significant" health condition. The Department had received comments pointing out that the medical community and State worker compensation systems do not support the current rule's hearing loss standard.

Second, the Department will propose to delay for one year the recordkeeping rule's definition of "musculoskeletal disorder" (MSD) and the requirement that employers check the MSD column on the OSHA log. The Department has announced its intention to develop a comprehensive plan to address ergonomic hazards and has scheduled a series on ergonomics. The issues to be decided as a result of these forums include the appropriate definitions of the terms "ergonomic injury" and MSD.