OSHA has just announced that it is extending by 15 days the public comment period for its proposal to add a separate column on the OSHA 300 log for employers to record work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).  Those wishing to comment on the proposed rule must now do so by March 30, 2010.  Four separate stakeholders had requested an extension of the comment period. 

Under the proposed rule, employers would be required to “check the box” in a separate column on the OSHA 300 log – an “MSD” column – for injuries and illnesses that fit within the agency’s definition. For purposes of the proposal, the agency defines MSDs as:

[D]isorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs. MSDs DO NOT include disorders caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, or other similar accidents. Examples of MSDs include: Carpal tunnel syndrome, Rotator Cuff syndrome, De Quervain’s disease, Trigger finger, Tarsal tunnel syndrome, Sciatica, Epicondylitis, Tendinitis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, Carpet layers knee, Herniated spinal disc, and Low back pain.

OSHA also is proposing to remove existing language from its recordkeeping compliance directive that “minor musculoskeletal discomfort” is not recordable as a restricted work case “if a health care professional determines that the employee is fully able to perform all of his or her routine job functions, and the employer assigns a work restriction for the purpose of preventing a more serious injury.” OSHA is concerned that this language creates confusion among employers about recording MSDs. OSHA’s proposal attempts to clarify that employers must record abnormal conditions resulting in minor musculoskeletal discomfort, regardless of whether the conditions include objective signs of an injury or illness – so long as all of the other criteria for recording are met.

This is an important rulemaking and all stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the rulemaking process.