Labor Officials Plan Voluntary Safety Guidelines; Spurn New Regulations for Employers
Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Labor Department officials said yesterday they plan to use voluntary guidelines and targeted enforcement of rules to improve job safety rather than impose new regulations on employers.
The new "comprehensive plan" favors business owners but is intended to respond to Democrats' demands for better job safety and health.
Last year, the Bush administration and Republicans blocked a proposal for tough ergonomics standards that business groups said would be prohibitively expensive.
"This plan is a major improvement over the rejected old rule because it will prevent ergonomics injuries before they occur and reach a much larger number of at-risk workers," Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a prepared statement.
Mrs. Chao has been criticized by Democrats for not quickly developing a plan for reducing repetitive-stress injuries among workers. The regulations Congress rejected last year would have placed strict limits on repetitive movements and heavy lifting and would have required employers to liberally compensate workers while they recover from injuries.
Under one part of the plan announced yesterday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will develop "industry and task-specific" guidelines to reduce ergonomic injuries.
The enforcement part of the plan calls for a crackdown on "bad actors," or employers in high-risk industries whose disregard for job safety would make them easy to prosecute. A special emphasis will be directed at protecting Hispanic or immigrant workers with weak English skills, who could be easy for employers to exploit.
Under the "compliance …
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Publication information: Article title: Labor Officials Plan Voluntary Safety Guidelines; Spurn New Regulations for Employers. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Washington Times (Washington, DC). Publication date: April 6, 2002. Page number: A01. © 2009 The Washington Times LLC. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.