Labor Department Delays Ergonomics Rule Decision
The Department of Labor has postponed, until later this fall, its decision on whether it will pursue new rulemaking to protect truck drivers and other workers from musculoskeletal injuries that can result from using force, repetitive motion, awkward postures, lifting, and vibration on the job.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao was expected to decide the issue by September, but she said most of her staff was busy last month in helping with the rescue and recovery efforts after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Chao announced the postponement Sept. 21.
Ergonomics rules were brought out by the Clinton administration and were put into effect in January, only to be nullified by Congress in March.
Businesses, including motor carriers, said the rules were vague and costly to implement. The American Trucking Associations said the rules would have cost the industry $6.5 billion to put into effect, two billion more than what OSHA estimated the costs to be for all industries.
Organized labor pressed for the regulations to protect workers against debilitating injuries, such as might result from using hydraulic tools in an improper manner. The rules were intended to cover 102 million workers at more than 6 million sites, and apply to the entire trucking industry.