Cumulative Trauma Disorders: OSHA’s General Duty Clause and the Need for an Ergonomics Standard

This Note argues that neither the Act nor its underlying policies supports OSHA’s current use of the general duty clause to prosecute alleged ergonomics violations and that the only way to protect workers from CTDs fairly and effectively is through the promulgation of an ergonomics standard. Part I examines the purposes of the Act, as well as the function of the Act’s general duty clause. Part II analyzes the four requirements of the general duty clause in the context of CTDs and finds that the clause does not apply to CTDs. Part III argues that the Act’s intended policies support the promulgation of an ergonomics standard rather than the use of the general duty clause. This Note concludes that the Secretary of Labor should promulgate an ergonomics standard33 as soon as possible and that, until then, the general duty clause should not be used to prosecute employers for alleged ergonomics violations.