From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

A Look at the Department of Labor

After months of speculation as to who would follow Jeffres, OSHA officially has someone at the helm. The Senate approved John Henshaw’s nomination Aug. 3, the day after his confirmation hearing. Sen. Edward
Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, pushed for a quick vote so Henshaw could take over as OSHA administrator this month instead of having to wait until after Labor Day, when the Senate returns from its August recess.

The question everyone has, and the question that Henshaw has been reserved in answering is: “What about ergonomics?”

Labor Secretary Chao has set September as the month the Department will have some route planned for ergonomics. And while the final decision of any action on ergonomics rests with Chao, Senators at Henshaw’s hearing made it clear that he was to play a leading role in shaping the policy.

At Astaris, where Henshaw previously worked in health and safety, ergonomics was addressed as part of a comprehensive program. While not stating his position on OSHA’s role in workplace ergonomics, Henshaw does state that ergonomics is not “junk science”.

In addition to having a voice at Henshaw’s confirmation hearing, Senator Kennedy and others have some reservations about Bush’s nomination of Eugene Scalia as top lawyer at the Labor Department. Scalia is the son of Justice Antonin Scalia, who is regarded as the top court’s most right-leaning jurist. Scalia is reported to have made the remark, “Ergonomics is quackery”.