The National Coalition on Ergonomics (NCE) called on all interested parties, including Congress, to allow the Department of Labor to complete its ergonomics review without impugning its motives or prejudging its results.
"Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has made good on her commitment to address the issue of ergonomics in a comprehensive, objective and timely manner," said NCE Chairman Ed Gilroy. "She has followed through by meeting with the various stakeholders involved in the process, and with the public forums held this month week, and she ought to be allowed to complete her work."
In particular, Gilroy cited union protests, as well as testimony presented at the first of three ergonomics forums in Arlington, Va., as evidence of the bias that some parties are bringing to the process.
"The process laid out by the secretary is both fair and even-handed. And, the questions posed are objective and reasonable," Gilroy said. "Unfortunately, the AFL-CIO seems more intent on political grandstanding, rather than participating in an honest discussion of the fundamental issues that persist with respect to ergonomics."
Gilroy also expressed concerns over a hearing on ergonomics convened last week by Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., before the Senate Health, Education and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training.
"While we appreciate the continuing interest members of Congress have in the issue of ergonomics," Gilroy said, "we hope the hearing is not intended to provide a forum for those who would simply criticize Chao''s efforts to address this important workplace issue. We call on Sen. Wellstone to use this and future subcommittee hearings to help further our understanding of ergonomics, and to resist the urgings of some who would rather score political points than find answers to questions that remain on this issue."
Gilroy concluded by urging all parties to allow Chao to complete her ergonomics review before rushing to judgment on its process or possible conclusions.
"At their core, the secretary''s efforts are about doing what''s right for American workers and the companies that employ them -- a goal shared by all parties with an interest in this issue," Gilroy said. "The best way to help ensure that outcome is to participate in the process in a fair, honest and comprehensive fashion, and to let the secretary complete the work that is appropriately within the purview of her department."
by Virginia Foran