While the conference committee is busy formulating a final Labor-HHS bill to present to President Clinton, OSHA is spinning its wheels in preparation for a final ergonomics standard by the end of the year.
According to a report in occupationalhazards.com, all OSHA safety standards personnel are working on the ergonomics rule.
After receiving approximately 9,000 comments on the ergonomics proposal, OSHA is reworking it. OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress is quoted as stating, “Many of the comments were thoughtful suggestions to improve the rule and will result in significant changes in the final rule.”
The Labor-HHS Appropriations bill was held up primarily because of controversy over the proposed ergonomics standard. OSHA published the proposed rule in November 1999 and held hearings through July 2000.
When OSHA submitted its annual budget to Congress as part of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill, both the House and the Senate attached identical riders prohibiting OSHA from using appropriated funds to promulgate, issue, implement, administer, or enforce any ergonomics standard.
President Clinton has vowed to veto the bill if the ergonomics rider is attached.
Nobody really knows how the conference committee will present the final Labor/HHS bill to the President. But the “word in the wind” is the final bill will not include the ergonomics rider. Without the rider, OSHA can proceed to issue a final standard after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviews it.
The continuing resolution, which extends the fiscal year past September 30th, is in place until Saturday, October 6th. Another continuing resolution is expected tomorrow giving the conference committee more time to resolve differences.