Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Senators Attack Process Used for OSHA Ergo Forum

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Senators Attack Process Used for OSHA Ergo Forum

Article excerpt

"Is it possible you're trying to build a process to support a decision you've already made?" Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., asked Chris Spear, assistant secretary of labor for policy. Wellstone spoke at a Senate subcommittee hearing on ergonomics held one day after the first phase of the Department of Labor's (DOL) forums ended.

Spear defended DOL's process, arguing that because Congress nullified OSHA's previous ergonomics rule, it was important to establish a new, "independent" record.

Wellstone, who chairs the subcommittee, said he held the hearings "to begin to fill in the gaps created by the administration's forums." According to Wellstone, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and their union supporters, the biggest hole in the DOL forums was the absence of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Republican opponents of an ergonomic standard last year insisted that OSHA wait for the completion of the NAS study before promulgating the rule. GOP lawmakers, however, now rarely mention the government-sponsored research, perhaps because it concluded that stressful work environments can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and that prevention efforts can reduce the risk of work-related MSDs. …

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