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Ergonomics issue remains on agenda with $2 million Senate appropriation

A recent move in the Senate to make $2 million available to the Department of Labor for planning a new ergonomics standard is a "marker in case they can resurrect the issue," says Cliff Harvison, National Tank Truck Carriers president. He pointed out that an earlier ergonomics plan failed to be approved last year. It had been initially supported by the Clinton administration and labor groups, but the Bush administration later opposed it.

NTTC and many other associations had criticized the initial plan as being excessively burdensome and complicated.

The Senate Appropriations Committee July 18 approved the $2 million funding to be made available in 2003 for the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to work on a standard to reduce repetitive stress injuries.

After the ergonomics proposal last year was killed by support from both parties in the Congress, the Department of Labor (DOL) conducted three public forums around the country and met with stakeholders, collecting sets of written comments and taking testimony from 100 speakers, including organized labor, workers, medical experts, and businesses, according to DOL information.

In April of this year, OSHA announced it was working on a plan to reduce ergonomic injuries through a combination of industry-targeted guidelines, enforcement measures, workplace outreach, advanced research, and dedicated efforts to protect Hispanic and other immigrant workers.

At about the same time, Senator John Breaux (D-La), Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa), and 22 other senators introduced a bill in the Senate to address ergonomic injuries in the workplace, according to information from Breaux.

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