Opponents Call on OSHA to Drop Ergo Rule

At a press conference yesterday, members of the National Coalition on Ergonomics called for OSHA to withdraw its proposed ergonomics regulation as hearings on the rule began just blocks away.

Decrying OSHA's ergonomics regulation as subjective, ambiguous and unmanageable, members of the National Coalition on Ergonomics (NCE) yesterday called for the agency to withdraw its rule, as hearings on the controversial regulation began just blocks away.

At a press conference yesterday morning, NCE members stood next to reams and reams of paper that make up the proposed regulation, and said OSHA needed to rethink its approach.

"Take a look at this and you'll understand our nightmare," said Barbara Hiden, director of federal affairs, National Soft Drink Association and member of the NCE, as she surveyed dozens of binders full of pages of OSHA's proposal.

While much of the debate over OSHA's rule has centered on whether medical and scientific evidence supports it, Stu McMichael, who runs a small print shop, said the rule is out of touch with the real world.

"OSHA's ergonomics rule would force me to become a better doctor than the physicians who treat these injuries and the scientists who research this issue," said McMichael.

McMichael and Jim Wordwoth, who operates a local restaurant, said employees are their most important resource.

"Employers are willing to spend money on proven safety programs," said Wordworth. "This proposed rule could actually result in greater harm by taking away from existing programs."

Public hearings began yesterday in Washington focused on OSHA's ergonomics rule. The NCE is scheduled to testify at those hearings next week.

The NCE is made up of more than 300 associations and businesses, including the Academy of General Dentistry, American Bakers Association, American Small Business Association, American Trucking Associations, Associated Builders and Contractors and Food Distributors International.

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