Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted out of committee legislation forcing the Department of Labor (DoL) to develop stronger regulations on ergonomic issues within two years of the bill’s passage.
The legislation, sponsored by Senators John Breaux, (D-Louisiana) and Arlen Specter, (R-Pennsylvania), also requires the regulations to cover a broader range of industries than what the current program covers.
The move outraged business groups, who, concerned that the bill would force the government to adopt stringent regulations, protested that Congress should not tamper with the DoL’s current program.
But proponents of the bill say that businesses have no incentive to follow the DoL’s current voluntary guidelines and mandatory ones are needed.
In 2001, the Bush administration buckled to pressure from businesses that argued that the strict ergonomics regulations that were enacted in the last days of Bill Clinton’s presidency placed an undue burden on small businesses, and overturned the bill (see Bush Repeals OSHA Regs ). The DoL put forward the voluntary program earlier this year.