THE OSHA EPISODE: How Molehills Become Mountains
By Gil E. Gordon
January 5, 2000
(Most recent update: January 29, 2000)
3. MY INTERPRETATION
4. SUGGESTIONS FOR EMPLOYERS
5. TRAINING TIPS
What follows is my personal analysis and commentary about the flurry of
activity and media coverage in the last couple of days about an
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) advisory letter that
dealt with employer responsibility for the health and safety of
telecommuters at home.
In short, this is an excellent example of how overreaction and
embellishment on the part of the media - and by those involved in the field
- creates what I believe to be an almost totally incorrect perception about
what is otherwise an important but relatively minor event.
My assessment of the situation is that employers need not fear any new
inspections, onerous regulations, or other factors that will unduly impinge
on their telecommuting programs. However, I do feel that this event
provides a good opportunity to remind ourselves about the do's and don't's
of setting up a safe home workplace, and what the responsibilities of
employer and telecommuter are. Finally, I think it also provides a good
reason for employers to think about (or rethink) their decisions about
providing an ergonomically-sound chair and workstation for telecommuters.