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Bush Repeals Ergonomics Rules

President Bush signed a repeal of OSHA's ergonomics standard\r\nTuesday, making the business-backed measure his first substantive\r\npolicy move since becoming president.

President Bush signed a repeal of OSHA''s ergonomics standard Tuesday, making the business-backed measure his first substantive policy move since becoming president.

The measure, revokes OSHA''s ergonomics rule -- aimed at preventing carpal tunnel syndrome tendinitis and other problems associated with repetitive motion -- that was 10 years in the making.

Earlier this month, Congress, with the help of business interests who criticized the cost and scope of the regulations, killed the standard through the Congressional Review Act.

Businesses, which were given until October to comply, charged that the required changes would cost them as much as $100 billion a year.

In the final days before the Congressional voteto repeal the standard, the lobbying campaign by both labor and business was fast and feverish.

Labor unions brought injured workers to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers. E-mails, faxes, phone calls and fliers also went out, and a protest was organized. But they could not overcome business groups

"This is a president who said, as a candidate, ''Judge me by my record,''" said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "The record is clear: the first substantive legislation signed by President Bush is a rollback by Congress of a health and safety standard -- the first in OSHA''s 30-year history.

Following the repeal by Congress, the Bush White House contended the ergonomics rules "would require employers to establish burdensome and costly new systems intended to track, prevent and provide compensation for an extremely broad class of injuries whose cause is subject to considerable dispute."

Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said she would consider how to address job-related injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

In a statement issued a few hours before the Senate voted to kill the rule, Chao promised to "pursue a comprehensive approach to ergonomics, which may include new rulemaking, that addresses the concerns levied against the current standard."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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