MNOSHA Compliance: Ergonomics FAQs
Q. Is every industry covered by this statute?
No, this statute applies to only the specific industries as defined in S.F. 3035-4 (to be enacted at Minnesota Statutes 182.677).
Q. How do I determine if the statute applies to me?
The United States Census Bureau maintains the most recent information about the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Visit census.gov/naics and see the available FAQS there for more information. The FAQs address what NAICS is, how it is used, what an establishment is and how to determine your "primary business activity."
Q. How does Minnesota OSHA define "employee"?
The definitions of "employee" and "employer" are in Minnesota Statutes 182.651.
Q. Do I only count full-time employees to determine the number of employees?
No, all individuals who meet the definition of employee should be counted, including part-time, temporary and seasonal employees.
Q. Does the ergonomics program have to be in writing?
Yes, each covered facility must have a written ergonomics program establishing the employer's plan to minimize the risk of its employees developing or aggravating musculoskeletal disorders. The program must include risk assessment, initial and ongoing employee training, early reporting procedures, a process for employees to propose solutions, procedures to ensure any plant modifications or major construction projects are consistent with program goals, and program evaluation on an annual and process-change basis. The required program items are detailed in Minn. Stat. 182.667, subdivision 2(a)-(b).
Q. If I already have a written safe-patient-handling program as a licensed health care facility, does it qualify as an ergonomics program?
Each program has specific statutory requirements. It is permissible to blend the programs as long as all elements required by statute are met for each program.
Q. How do I assess my facility? What is an assessment to identify and reduce musculoskeletal disorder risk factors in the facility?
An assessment can be any effective method to identify potential ergonomic issues. This includes identifying existing problems through review of the company's injury and illness logs, workers' compensation records, early reports of signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), employee reports of problems, and observation and evaluation of workplace conditions for potential ergonomic risk factors.
Ergonomic risk assessment is a process. By responding to early reports of signs and symptoms, you can reduce the severity of an injury or illness. Identifying ergonomic hazards prior to early reports of signs and symptoms may prevent injuries and illnesses from occurring. See federal OSHA's Ergonomics – Identify Problems for additional resources and information.
Q. How do I determine if my ergonomics program is successful?
The annual evaluation must assess the effectiveness of the program, which includes whether the process established for mitigating work-related risk factors in response to employee reports of MSD symptoms has been effective and whether goals set by the program have been met. When assessing the effectiveness of the program, it is appropriate to compare year-to-year changes in injury and illness incidence rates for total recordable cases (TRC) and the days-away-restricted-transfer (DART) rate to identify trends. The TRC calculates the rate for all injuries and illnesses recorded on the OSHA 300 log for the year and includes injuries and illnesses that are recorded as "other recordable." The DART rate includes only injuries or illnesses that are more severe and required time away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job. For assistance, see OSHA Forms for Recording Work-related Injuries and Illnesses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Injury and Illness Incidence Rate Calculator and Comparison Tool may also be helpful.
Q. Does training have to be in person?
No, computer-based training or eLearning can be used. The training must cover all of the required items listed in the statute.
Q. When should ongoing training occur?
Annual employee training is required. Employees must also receive updates to the information conveyed in the training as soon as practicable.
Q. What does "employee involvement" mean?
Safety committees must be directly involved in ergonomic worksite assessments and participate in the annual program evaluation as required by the statute. Feedback from employees about the employer's ergonomics program must also be solicited through the safety committee. The ergonomics program must include a process for employees to provide possible solutions that may be implemented to reduce, control or eliminate workplace musculoskeletal disorders.
Q. Can I have an ergonomics team?
An ergonomics team is allowed. However, the safety committee must be directly involved in ergonomics worksite assessments and participate in the annual program evaluation required by the statute. One way to accomplish this is to have the ergonomics team be a subcommittee of the safety committee and report its findings to the safety committee.
Q. What about a safe-patient-handling committee?
If your facility is covered by Minn. Stat. 182.6553, you are required to have a safe-patient-handling committee that meets the criteria of the statute. A safe-patient-handling committee may also be a subcommittee of the safety committee and report its findings to the safety committee.
Q. What is an example of a program, policy or practice that would discourage employees from reporting injuries, hazards or safety and health violations?
Federal OSHA maintains information about policies and practices that would discourage employees from reporting injuries, hazards, or safety and health violations, which include the following.
Q. What are some examples of musculoskeletal disorders that employees might suffer?
Examples of musculoskeletal disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries (affects the shoulder), epicondylitis (affects the elbow), trigger finger, muscle strains and low back injuries. For more, see Ergonomics – Overview.
Q. Can I use my OSHA Form 300 Log of Work-related Injuries and Illness to track MSDs?
No, the OSHA 300 log only captures injuries and illnesses that are severe enough to be recorded on the log. Recording musculoskeletal disorders on the OSHA 300 log that do not reach the level of severity to be recorded would inflate the rates of injury and illnesses for the establishment.
Q. How should I maintain a record of all musculoskeletal disorders suffered by employees?
A best practice would be to record all musculoskeletal disorders suffered by employees in a spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet allows the sorting of musculoskeletal disorders by location or by type. This will assist the safety committee in analyzing trends and directing resources for reducing musculoskeletal disorders.
Q. Can I use my OSHA Form 300 Log of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses to track all worker visits to on-site medical or first aid personnel?
No, visits to on-site medical or first aid personnel may or may not reach the level of severity to be on the OSHA 300 Log; therefore, the OSHA 300 Log would not capture all visits. A separate log of all visits to on-site medical or first aid personnel, regardless of severity or type of illness or injury, must be maintained for five years effective Jan. 1, 2024. This log will capture all visits to on-site medical or first aid personnel, not just visits associated with a potential MSDs.
Q. When does the five-year period start?
Effective Jan. 1, 2024, establishments covered by the statute will have to maintain a log of all visits to on-site medical or first aid personnel for the period of five years. If you have not maintained a first aid log prior to this, you will be required to do so effective Jan. 1, 2024.