Senate Democratic Members Disapprove of Senate Passage of SB 20 to Dilute Cost-Saving Workplace Safety Standards
Senate Bill 20 Rolls Back Guidelines That Reduce On-The-Job Injuries
LANSING –Several Democratic Senators today expressed their displeasure at a bill passed through the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate yesterday on a party line vote. Senate Bill 20 would restrict the state of Michigan from implementing basic ergonomic standards, which have a proven ability to reduce costs related to workers’ compensation claims and increase the productivity of both blue and white-collar workers. An amendment was also introduced by Senator Tupac A. Hunter which would allow a commission to establish rules that would prevent injury or death, but it was also defeated along primarily party lines.
“This bill is unnecessary and is an overall bad idea because it goes against what businesses already know, which is that ergonomic standards are in their best interest,” said Democratic Floor Leader Tupac A. Hunter (D-Detroit). “We should be working with our private sector businesses to help them create the safest, most efficient worksites instead of passing legislation that hurts rather than helps our workers.”
“Several years ago, ergonomic injuries accounted for roughly 40% of workers’ compensation claims,” State Senator Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) said. “Ergonomic standards have drastically reduced the costs associated with these injuries and have improved worker health and productivity – both of which are essential to a prosperous company.”
Companies across the state have realized the cost-savings of implementing basic ergonomic standards. Robert Bosch LLC in St. Joseph, Michigan wrote a letter to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) stating that as a result of their efforts to improve ergonomics, their plant realized a 46% reduction in recorded incidences involving musculoskeletal injuries and incidences of repetitive trauma from 2006 to 2007.
“This attitude of ‘if you get injured in the workplace you’re basically on your own’ code of belligerence towards the Michigan worker must end for our state economy to thrive. Study after study shows ergonomics help save companies money and increase worker productivity,” Senator Coleman A. Young II (D-Detroit) said. “Keeping workers safe on the job should be something that businesses, workers and elected officials can all agree on, and we certainly shouldn’t be spending time on a problem that doesn’t exist while we’re facing much more pressing ones that do.”
The state has not yet adopted any ergonomics rules, and there currently are no federal ergonomic rules to supersede them, which makes this bill premature and unwarranted. It is considered a preemptive strike to limit ergonomics consideration to maintain workplace safety, and unnecessary deference to the federal government on important safety measures that affect Michigan workers.
“Injuries, compensation claims and lost productivity cause businesses to lose almost $50 billion per year nationwide,” said Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “Michigan’s successful implementation of appropriate ergonomic standards has already led to cost-savings and improved working conditions here at home. As we work to rebuild our economy, we must stay focused on workplace safety measures like this that help businesses and workers.”
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