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THE OSHA EPISODE: How Molehills Become Mountains

By Gil E. Gordon
January 5, 2000
(Most recent update: January 29, 2000)

1. SUMMARY
2. BACKGROUND
3. MY INTERPRETATION
4. SUGGESTIONS FOR EMPLOYERS
5. TRAINING TIPS

1. SUMMARY

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.

Entire contents of this website Copyright © 2007 Gil Gordon Associates