U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said last month that she would convene three national public forums on ergonomics in the workplace and identify a course of action by September. Earlier this year, Congress overturned a Clinton administration regulation that imposed broad new protections for workers that claim musculoskeletal ailments due to repetitive stress. At the time of congressional action, Chao pledged to continue working on the issue. The forums will take place in July in Washington, D.C., Illinois and California.
In testimony before Congress, Chao pledged that any future regulation on ergonomics would be based on the following principles:
· Prevention – The approach should emphasize the prevention of injuries, before they occur.
· Sound science – The approach should be based on the best available science and research.
· Incentive driven – The approach should focus on cooperation between OSHA and employers.
· Flexibility – The approach should take account of the varying capabilities and characteristics of different businesses and workers.
· Feasibility: Future actions must recognize the costs of compliance to small businesses.
· Clarity: Any approach must include short, simple and common sense instructions.