Ergonomics FAQs for Plastics Processors

Please look below to find an answer to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ergonomics for Plastics Processors. If you have a question not listed, please contact Susan Howe, Vice President, Worker Health & Safety.

Question: Which states have ergonomics standards?

Only one state has an Ergonomics Standard: California.

California. The California repetitive motion injury standard became legally enforceable in California on July 3, 1997. The California standard applies to a job, process, or operation in which a repetitive motion injury (RMI) has occurred to more than one employee under specified conditions. Every employer subject to this standard shall establish and implement a program designed to minimize RMIs. The program shall include a worksite evaluation, control of exposures that have caused RMIs and training of employees.

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Question: I don't have a business in California. Where can I find information about what's going on in my state?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 encourages states to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. OSHA approves and monitors state plans. A directory of Web sites for the state-plan states can be found here. States without a state plan for private-sector employees are covered through their OSHA Region and Area Office. If you need assistance in your state, we would suggest that you contact your state consultation program.

Several states have ergonomics information on their Web sites.

Washington. Washington State's ergonomics rule was rescinded in December 2003. The rule was designed to reduce work-related musculoskeletal injuries, such as back strain, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. As part of their rulemaking activity, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries developed ergonomics information and evaluation tools, which can be found at the following site:

Michigan. Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) places a heavy emphasis on ergonomics and urges all employers to take immediate steps to eliminate musculoskeletal injuries in their workplaces. A proposed ergonomics standard is currently under consideration for rulemaking. The MIOSHA Consultation Education & Training (CET) Division continues to provide a range of consultation, education and training services to assist employers and employees who wish to reduce or eliminate ergonomic injuries in their workplaces. MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) grants provide training and assistance to employers on ergonomic issues. More information can be found at:,1607,7-154-11407_15317---,00.html

North Carolina. The North Carolina Ergonomics Standard was invalidated in 2001. The North Carolina American Furniture Manufacturers Association developed a Voluntary Ergonomics Guideline for the Furniture Manufacturing Industry. It explains basic ergonomic principles and outlines a variety of best practices for their industry. A copy of the guideline can be downloaded at the following site:

Oregon. Oregon has an extensive listing of ergonomics tools for business, which includes Oregon OSHA's Online Course 201: Developing an Ergonomics Program. The course covers the following topics: Setting the Stage for Action; Analyzing the Workplace; Identifying Risk Factors; Ergonomics Job Hazard Analysis; Controlling Risk Factors; Implementing Controls; Medical Management; Ergonomics Education and Training.

Montana. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry has developed a pamphlet on Preventing Back Injuries that provides the information necessary for employers to establish a back injury prevention program and train their employees in avoiding back injuries.

Ohio. The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Division of Safety and Hygiene offers training courses on ergonomics that include: basic principles of ergonomics; applied ergonomics; and, how to develop an effective ergonomics process.

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Question - What government resources are available?

NIOSH. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the Federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related disease and injury. NIOSH has a Web site devoted to ergonomics and musculoskeletal disorders. This site offers information on ergonomics programs and interventions; evaluation of risk factors for lifting tasks; back belts and back injuries; computer keyboards; and other information, including documents, resources and links.

OSHA. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has several Web sites devoted to information about ergonomics in the workplace. Its general ergonomics site contains information on the recognition of ergonomic stressors as a source of injury for employees, as well as control strategies for most of these stressors, and ergonomic programs as solutions. Additionally, Section VII, Chapter 1 in the OSHA Technical Manual has detailed information about back disorders and injuries.

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Question - Are any groups developing industry consensus standards for ergonomics?

Yes. Industry consensus standards are under development in several standards-making organizations.

ASTM - the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), Committee E34 on Occupational Health and Safety Subcommittee E34.85 on Ergonomics, published A Standard Guide for the Integration of Ergonomics/Human Factors in New Occupational Systems (ASTM E2350-07). Click here for information on this committee.

ACGIH, - the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has several ergonomics-based standards and educational programs under consideration in its Threshold Limits Values for

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Question - What is SPI doing on ergonomics?

The SPI EHS+ Worker Health and Safety Task Group closely monitors, and responds as necessary to ergonomics rulemaking activities underway by OSHA and the state plan states.

SPI is working to provide employers with information and guidance that will help them protect employees' health and safety, particularly in reducing and preventing exposure to workplace hazards.


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