Breaux Pushes OSHA Reg Follow-up

March 28, 2001 ( - Senator John Breaux (D-La.) has offered a bill that would force the Labor Department to adopt a new ergonomics standard within two years, while attempting to address shortcomings in the version adopted in the closing months of the Clinton administration.

Breaux and other senators argued that while Congress voted to overturn the Clinton administration’s version of the controversial Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule, Congress should go on record supporting a follow-up. 

The bill was rejected by the Senate 56-44, on March 6. . President Bush signed the resolution disapproving the federal ergonomic standard March 20 ( Bush Repeals OSHA Regs ).

Senator Breaux also noted that the federal labor department rule gave contradictory information about what industries were covered and gave insufficient information to employers about how they would comply with the new workplace requirements. 

The bill attempts to redress some of the more egregious components of the old rule, providing that any new OSHA rule:

  • would not apply to disorders that occur outside work or were simply aggravated by work
  • cannot expand or conflict with existing state workers’ compensation laws.
  • must “set forth in clear terms” the circumstances under which an employer would be required to address ergonomic hazards
  • must specify the standards that will be applied in evaluating the employer’s compliance

The Breaux bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.); Blanch Lincoln (D-Ark.); Ted Stevens (R-Alaska); Mary Landrieu (D-La.); Ben Nelson (D-Neb.); Max Cleland (D-Ga.); Zell Miller (D-Ga.); and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).

Of those, only Senators Johnson, Cleland and Nelson originally voted to protect the Clinton administration’s regulations from being overridden by Congress.

The bill was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

– Nevin Adams

Senator Breaux’s press release on the bill is at