OSHA's Ergonomics Regulation
Because of the nature of the hazards addressed by this regulation, employers would be held accountable for injuries that could occur from activities outside the workplace. Although a final regulation was issued just after the 2000 election, the Chamber continued fighting. Shortly after the 107th Congress convened in early 2001, the Senate and House passed a joint resolution invalidating the ergonomics regulation under the neverbefore- used provisions of the Congressional Review Act (CRA). President Bush signed the resolution on March 20, 2001.
On April 5, 2002, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao launched a four-prong alternative approach to dealing with the ergonomics issue that called for
- Promulgation of industry-specific voluntary guidelines;
- Tough enforcement measures using the Occupational Safety and Health Act's General Duty Clause;
- Workplace outreach offering compliance assistance; and
- Ergonomics research.
Industry-specific guidelines have been issued for the nursing home, retail, and poultry processing industries. The National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics, convened as one of the four prongs, has concluded its meetings and made recommendations to the secretary on topics that need further research and on how to reach out to employers more effectively.
U.S. Chamber Position
The U.S. Chamber continues to co-chair the National Coalition on Ergonomics (NCE), which was the voice of the business community throughout the development and ultimate repeal of the ergonomics regulation. The Chamber will continue to monitor OSHA's activities in this area and be vigilant in opposing any attempts by the agency to overreach through use of the General Duty Clause, the imposition of guidelines lacking a sound scientific basis, or other approaches.