The agency is addressing this issue in the wake of the repeal of the controversial ergonomics regulations that were implemented during the last weeks of the Clinton administration.
In the Federal Register notice announcing the meetings, the Department of Labor said this is the "beginning of its initiative to create a new and comprehensive approach to ergonomics that is appropriate to the 21st Century workforce."
Since the previous ergonomics regulations were overturned, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao has been meeting with representatives from business, labor, and the public health community, as well as with members of congress. As a result of these meetings, she has determined that consensus has not been reached on several very basic questions, which she hopes to address in these hearings:
Question 1: What is an ergonomics injury?
Question 2: How can it be determined whether an ergonomics injury was caused by work-related activities or non-work-related injuries? And what should be done if the injury was caused by a combination of work- and non-work activities?
Question 3: What are the most useful and cost-effective types of government involvement to address workplace ergonomics injuries?
Chao says the department will aim for regulations that emphasize prevention of injuries, are based on sound science, focus on cooperation between OSHA and employers, take account of the varying capabilities and characteristics of different businesses and workers, recognize the costs of compliance to small businesses, and include short, simple, common-sense instructions.
You can written comments in response to the three specific questions raised in this notice, and/or speak on these questions at the public forums:
Washington, D.C. July 16-17, George Mason University, Arlington Campus Professional Center, Room 329, 3401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA.
Chicago, Ill, July 20, University of Chicago, Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 East 59th Street.
Stanford, California, July 24, 2001, Stanford University, Kresge Auditorium of Stanford Law School.
Interested individuals and groups may make public comments at these forums. Because time is limited, it may not be possible to schedule all those who make a request to speak. In addition, because of the time constraints, individuals who are selected to speak will be allotted no more than 10 minutes to make a presentation. Following each presentation, a panel may question the presenter on relevant issues.
More information on submission requirements for notices of intention to speak at any of the forums, as well as submission of statements and other written comments, can be found at www.osha.gov.