Release Date: Apr 05, 2000Contact: 888-249-NEWS
OSHA Ergonomics Rulemaking A "Sham," Charges U.S. Chamber of Commerce
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce criticized the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for preventing a full and open public hearing on their proposed ergonomics rule, potentially the most costly regulation ever, in congressional testimony today.
"It has become clear that OSHA's ergonomics rulemaking process is far more a sham than an open search for evidence," said Willis Goldsmith, a partner with Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, on behalf of the Chamber. "The process has been purposely structured to prevent an honest, thorough review and analysis of the Agency's controversial proposal."
The hearings have been structured to prevent meaningful questioning or cross-examination, as required by law. Goldsmith pointed out that OSHA has failed to identify which experts would testify at the hearings, or the material upon which their testimony was based, precluding any meaningful ability to question these experts or their conclusions. Further, OSHA has put severe restrictions on the time allowed to question expert testimony – at one hearing questioning was limited to ten minutes per panel, with three or four experts on each panel.
"OSHA is uninterested in developing a thorough and truthful record that considers all views, but rather intends to unfairly weight the record in favor of their proposal," said Goldsmith. "This rulemaking procedure falls far short of providing a fair opportunity for public comment and leaves the impression that OSHA is simply going through the motions in order to reach a pre-ordained conclusion."
OSHA has rushed the public hearing process, scheduling hearings only seven business days after the close of the comment period, according to the Chamber. Reviewing a significant portion of the thousands of pages of comments on the proposed ergonomics rule that were filed by nearly 7,000 individuals and organizations is little more than a hopeless exercise.
Moreover, OSHA has limited the number of regional public hearings to a few northern cities: Washington, D.C., Chicago, Illinois, and Portland, Oregon. There are no hearings scheduled in the southern United States, Goldsmith noted.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.
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