On June 22, the U.S. Senate voted 57-41 to adopt an amendment that prohibits OSHA from implementing the proposed ergonomics standards. Voting largely along party lines, the Republican-controlled Senate argued it needed additional time before permitting regulations to go into effect.
OSHA is planning to release the final standards by year-end 2000. Technically, the ban would expire at the end of the fiscal year, in October 2001.
The National Association of Manufacturers, a strong opponent of OSHA’s ergonomics proposal, placed hundreds of calls to legislators before the vote. Their Web site noted, “We’re determined to delay the proposal until a reasonable, science-based consensus is reached and are prepared to take this battle to court.”
Democrats are still quick to point out that President Clinton will veto the overall bill, which provides annual spending for the departments of labor, education, health and human services.
The amendment, sponsored by GOP Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, used identical language as the Northup amendment that passed in the House on June 6th.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass, argues that the science of ergonomics is clear. He questions whether we have the will and determination to protect American workers. Democrats say the regulations developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could help an estimated 1.8 million workers who suffer from ergonomic injuries each year.
Enzi summarizes the Republican view, “This is the largest, most onerous and expensive rule in the history of this agency. This rule has serious, substantial flaws.”