Drivers

Ergonomics Proposal Pending

October 28, 1999

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As the end of the congressional session approaches, the way is clear for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to publish its long-awaited ergonomics proposal.

The proposal, which would require employers to establish comprehensive programs to protect workers from injuries, had been bottled up by Republican members who opposed it.
But the cork in the bottle, a proposal to shut off OSHA funding for the rules, was dropped at the last minute from an appropriations bill.
Now, all that stands between OSHA and publication is a promise by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-MS, that the issue will be brought to Congress before it adjourns some time this week.
Employer interests, including the American Trucking Assns., have been fighting to contain OSHA on grounds that the proposed rules are unscientific and impossible to enforce. Earlier this year, the House passed a measure that would block the rules until the National Academy of Sciences completes a study that is due in 2001. The Senate did not vote on its version of that bill.
The OSHA rules will target injuries attributed to repetitive motion, lifting objects or other work-related activities. OSHA says the rules are needed to reduce “musculoskeletal disorders” such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and strained back.
The OSHA proposal, which is being reviewed by the Office of Management Budget, is scheduled to be published in November.

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