Critics contend that the decision, announced by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, will make it harder to identify repetitive-motion injuries, including those related to carpal tunnel syndrome.
The Labor Department had proposed requiring employers to report repetitive motion injuries separately in a new category, called musculoskeletal disorders, as part of a final Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule on record-keeping requirements, which goes into effect next year.
But Chao decided these health problems are inadequately defined and therefore hard to identify.
"Until a definition is agreed upon, the data collected will not help us target the injuries that need to be eliminated," Chao said in a Labor Department statement that downplayed the decision.
The statement stressed instead that the government "has determined that all but a few of the provisions of the final rule should take effect as scheduled."
The Labor Department drafted the proposed reporting requirements in January. They are scheduled to become law in January 2001.
The new rule is supposed to simplify the record-keeping process by:
- Making the requirements more logical and coherent.
- Explaining them in plain language.
- Consolidating the interpretations and guidance previously found in a host of secondary sources.
- Providing new record-keeping forms that are easier to understand and complete.
Besides the section on musculoskeletal disorders, the government has dropped another concerning recording occupational hearing loss based on the occurrence of a Standard Threshold Shift (STS) in hearing acuity.
federal government has dropped - for now - a proposal to require employers to separately report nerve, tendon, or spinal-disk injuries in their workplaces.