Senate Repeals Ergonomics Regulations
Mar 7, 2001 12:00 PM, Gary MacklinUsing the Congressional Review Act, a little-known piece of legislation that allows Congress to alter federal regulations after they have become effective, The US Senate repealed ergonomics rules rushed into place in the last days of the Clinton administration. Six moderate Democrats joined all 50 Republicans in voting to repeal the rules which OSHA said were intended to prevent repetitive stress injuries. The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up similar legislation later this week, perhaps a early as Wednesday.
The ergonomics rules had been bitterly opposed by business groups, especially wholesale grocers, foodservice distributors, and trucking. These groups said that the rules would impose unnecessary burdens on their operations because of limits imposed on the amount of weight workers could be required to lift. Within the wholesale grocery industry alone, cost estimates of implementing the rules ranged as high as $24 billion. OSHA officials countered that business would save money as a result of the new rules, because it would be required to pay fewer workplace injury claims.
Although the Bush administration backed repeal of the rules, Elaine Chao, secretary of labor, has said that new rules that address the objections to those rules just repealed might be pursued.