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ID News--New Ergo Rule Too Like the Original

Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) is introducing a bill that would direct the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to redraft an ergonomics rule. Sen. Breaux had opposed the original ergonomics rule rescinded by the Bush Administration, as he felt it went too far in terms of compliance. The bill he is now sponsoring, however, is almost identical to the one he did not support, according to Food Distributor International (FDI), Falls Church, VA.

Both the new bill and the original would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to promulgate an ergonomics rule within two years. The legislation would require the DOL to emphasize prevention of injuries, forcing companies to take action regardless of whether injuries have occurred. It would cover all industries where workers are exposed to "ergonomics hazards" and there are "feasible measures to control these hazards."

At the same time, the docket compiled for the old rule would be used to design the new one.

The National Coalition on Ergonomics still believes a rule is premature, FDI points out. Until the science can answer basic questions such as what causes musculoskeletal disorders and how to determine if they are work-related, any rule would force employers to guess at the best ways to prevent injuries. Thus, employers would be forced to institute a program with no assurance of success.

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