News Release

Repeal of Workers’ Safety?

Last night, the Senate voted to roll back a new federal rule protecting workers from repetitive stress injuries. House action is expected later this week. The following analysts are available for interviews:

PAMELA VOSSENAS
Vossenas is co-chair of the health and safety committee of the National Writers Union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers. She said today: “The Senate’s action, under the Congressional Review Act, is a draconian measure by the Bush administration with a clear intention to kill the ergonomics standard forever. It’s an extremist action that will not only maim over a half-million workers each year, but will also rob them of their chance to earn a living, to pick up their children, to lead a normal life. Twenty years in the making and with less than two months on the books, the ergonomics standard is OSHA’s most important health and safety law. Without it, workers will remain at the mercy of what appears obvious — the ruthless and irresponsible interests of business and their paid congressional representatives.”
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BILL MARRAS
Professor of industrial and systems engineering at Ohio State University, co-author of the 1,600-page Handbook of Occupational Ergonomics and more than 125 journal articles on biomechanics and ergonomics, Marras is a member of the National Academy of Sciences committee to investigate the work-relatedness of musculoskeletal disorders, which recently released its report. He said today: “We found a huge problem, costing an estimated $50 billion a year. There is a strong link between the way you set up the workplace and the risk of suffering back or wrist problems.”

HEIDI EBERHARDT
While working as a researcher for an Internet company, Eberhardt developed tendonitis. She now works with the Coalition on New Office Technology. She said today: “If the OSHA regulations had been in place two years ago, I would not be injured. Repetitive strain injuries are easy to prevent, but hard to recover from. They are the number one cause of injuries in the workplace today; they are chronic and involve more lost work time than acute injury. The OSHA standards would actually save companies money in skyrocketing workers compensation claims.”
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CANDICE JOHNSON
Spokeswoman for the Communications Workers of America, Johnson said: “After years of study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, this standard finally was issued, benefiting 100 million workers. Now, business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers want to keep this standard from taking effect. Under a never-used law, the Congressional Review Act, a simple majority vote by members of Congress would be enough to throw out a rule put in place by a federal agency. It also would make it nearly impossible to reintroduce the standard in the future.”
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For further information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167