WASHINGTON (April 19, 2001) — Labor Secretary Elaine Chao will be among the witnesses at a Senate subcommittee hearing April 26 to address the question of ergonomics in the workplace.
Congress and the Bush administration in March got rid of the controversial Clinton administration final rule on ergonomics, which rubber manufacturers and many tire dealers opposed. A number of senators and congressmen, however, are urging quick passage of new legislation directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a standard to protect workers from musculoskeletal injuries.
One such bill, sponsored by Louisiana Democrats in the House and Senate, directs OSHA to issue an ergonomics standard within two years.
However, unlike the Clinton rule — which many lawmakers believed was somewhat draconian — the new rule would have to "set forth in clear terms" the circumstances under which employers would have to correct ergonomics problems and what the standard would require them to do.
Under the Congressional Review Act, which Congress used to vote down the Clinton ergonomics rule, any agency whose rulemaking has been rejected cannot reissue the standard in "substantially" the same form.