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Okay, you've known for quite some time that ergonomic issues were abound, but maybe you just haven't reached that item on your to-do list. It's time to move it closer to the top. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently proposed an Ergonomics Program standard. After discussions in early 2000, the final version of the standard will become mandatory by year end.

So what does this mean to you? Well, it means that if you don't currently do the following things (see preliminary checklist below); you could legally be required to do so by the end of 2000. Most of the items deal with musculoskeletal disorders commonly known as repetitive stress injury, or RSI. As an accounting firm with a team of people working on computers 8+ hours a day, you'll want to take this matter seriously – even if you've never had a claim.

Larger companies may already have most of the new program's standards in place. That's good news for them. For the rest of you, take a look at OSHA's proposed Ergonomics Program standard:

Establish procedures for employees to report symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders and respond quickly to their complaints.

Inform employees of workplace hazards that may cause musculoskeletal disorders and repeat ergonomic training once every three years, or more often if additional injuries occur.

Analyze jobs and consult employees in those jobs to identify factors that may cause or aggravate musculoskeletal disorders and either eliminate or significantly reduce them.

Train employees so they can avoid injuries that may cause musculoskeletal disorders.

Keep written records of actions taken and injury rates (except companies with 10 or fewer employees).

Provide employees with medical care at no cost to them to treat their work-related injuries.

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