NAM Takes Aim at Ergonomics

Jan. 10, 2001
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) outlined its legislative\r\nagenda at a news conference yesterday in Washington, D.C., which includes its effort to kill OSHA's ergonomic standard.

Citing the opportunities presented by a new administration and Congress controlled by Republicans for the first time in decades, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) outlined its legislative agenda at a news conference yesterday in Washington, D.C.

The effort to kill OSHA''s ergonomics standard by having both houses of Congress pass a "joint resolution of disapproval" is at the top of NAM''s legislative wish list, according to Pat Cleary, NAM''s vice president for human resources policy.

He said the association is actually pursuing a dual-track anti-ergonomics strategy: a lawsuit launched by NAM and other employer groups is asking a federal appeals court to throw the standard out.

The drive to nullify the rule legislatively would entail employing a provision of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that has never been used before, and if passed by congress it would require the president''s signature. NAM must move quickly because under a complicated formula spelled out in the CRA, Congress must act by March or April.

Cleary said NAM has been in touch with the presidential transition team, but there has been no commitment as of yet by the president-elect to support the anti-ergonomics effort.

Cleary brushed aside suggestions that NAM''s chances of success were slim, given a narrowly divided Congress and a president-elect who won without a majority of popular votes.

"Ergonomics is a killer for us," he said. "We have no choice."

Cleary also noted few people last year believed both houses of Congress would have approved a rider to the Labor Department''s appropriation bill barring OSHA from going ahead with the ergonomics standard.

Despite the rider''s success in Congress, President Clinton refused to accept the measure and it was dropped from the final Labor appropriations bill.

In an interview after the press conference, Jenny Krese, NAM''s director of employment policy, said at this point she had not heard of a single company that is planning to qualify for the grandfather clause of the ergonomics standard. "And I get 10 to 20 calls and e-mails from member companies a day," she added.

Krese said companies were also not favorably impressed by a recent letter from OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress responding to Organization Resources Counselors'' (ORC) request for a delay in the grandfather clause requirements.

Frank White of ORC has called the letter "helpful" for business for several reasons, most immediately because it made clear that companies need not be in full compliance with the standard by Jan. 16 to qualify for the grandfather clause.

In an interview, White confirmed that a number of ORC companies are seeking to qualify for the grandfather clause, though he said he had no idea how many.

by James Nash

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EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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