Senator Critical of OSHA Ergonomics Study

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. is asking OSHA to postpone\r\nits July 7 ergonomics rule hearing and provide for a longer comment\r\nperiod on the impact of the rule on the U.S. Postal Service, state\r\nand local governments and railroad workers.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., recently wrote a letter to OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress, asking that the agency postpone its July 7 ergonomics rule hearing and provide for a longer comment period on the impact of the rule on the U.S. Postal Service, state and local governments and railroad workers.

Enzi''s letter expressed his "shock" and "disappointment" in OSHA''s recently published analysis of the impact of its proposed ergonomics program standard on state and local governments in state-plan states, railroads and the U.S. Postal Service.

The senator said he was dismayed by the slow release of this analysis and OSHA was adding insult to injury.

"The fact that OSHA neglected to perform economic analyses for such significant sectors, like the U.S. Postal Service, at the beginning of the process is yet another indication that OSHA has already made up its mind about the proposed standard and is trying to push it through without sufficient consideration," he wrote to Jeffress.

Enzi is concerned that if OSHA continues to forge recklessly ahead with its proposed standard, the final product will be sloppy and not only fail to advance worker health and safety, but threaten the visibility of businesses across the country.

Enzi sponsored a bill two years ago that brought the Postal Service under the OSH Act and is particularly concerned about the threat that OSHA could subject it to the "most onerous rule ever drafted," without giving the Postal Service an adequate opportunity to examine and comment on its cost.

The Postal Service wrote OSHA on Dec. 22, 1999, explaining the difficulty of examining the rule without OSHA''s analysis.

In asking Jeffress to give more time for interested parties to comment on the rule, Enzi pointed out that it took OSHA five months to respond to the Postal Service''s concerns.

"The U.S. Postal Service deserves at least an equal amount of time to respond to OSHA''s analysis," Enzi wrote.

In April, Enzi, chairman of the Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training, held a hearing in his subcommittee to explore some of the effects of OSHA''s proposed ergonomics rule, which concerns musculoskeletal disorders.

Enzi said possible effects of the rule on the workplace could drastically complicate state workers'' compensation systems and result in increased costs for consumers.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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