The House Thursday voted 220 to 203 to block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from imposing new ergonomics standards that address repetitive strain injuries. The Republican-backed move was part of a $340 billion funding bill for labor, education and health programs that Clinton has vowed to veto. In addition, the Senate is not expected to back up the House tactic.
The standard would require employers to develop programs aimed at reducing work-related musculoskeletal disorders. It would apply to manufacturing and manual handling operations, which would likely include dock workers, mechanics and drivers - particularly those who load and unload freight.
The ATA says the ergonomics standard is "completely unworkable" because it is not based on sound science, is too costly and is not necessary. At hearings earlier this year, ATA's Stuart Flatow testified that the new rules would cost trucking far more than OSHA's estimate of $200 million, and that employers attempting to comply with the standard "would be subjected to an endless circle of experimental measures" with no assurances that the programs would be effective.
The National Automobile Dealers Assn. (which includes the American Truck Dealers association) applauded the move. "This vote is another important step towards protecting America's auto and truck dealerships and other small businesses from these unreasonable and overly burdensome regulations," said Harold Wells, NADA chairman.