National News Release: USDL:00-28
Thursday, January 27, 2000
Contact: Carl Fillichio/202-693-4650 Bonnie Friedman/202-693-1999
Washington, Portland Hearings to be Rescheduled
OSHA EXTENDS PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD ON ERGONOMICS PROPOSAL
Members of the public wishing to comment on the proposed ergonomics standard will have an additional 30 days to do so, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced today.
The deadline for public comment, originally slated for next Tuesday, will be extended to March 2 in order to accommodate the large number of requests the agency received from individuals needing additional time to prepare their submissions.
"Because this standard is so important, we determined that it is in the best interest of workers, employers and all concerned to extend the comment period," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. "Although the ergonomics proposal itself is short, there are many supporting documents, and people want additional time to review the record."
Hearings on the proposed standard, originally scheduled to begin on Feb. 22 in Washington, D.C., are now scheduled to begin on March 13. The Chicago hearing will still begin on April 11 as planned. Additional information about the third hearing, originally scheduled to begin in Portland on March 21, will be announced shortly. Individuals planning to testify for more than 10 minutes at the hearings had until Jan. 24 to file their notice of intent to appear. That date will not be extended, although people who filed notices of intent to appear will be allowed to amend their requests if necessary.
"The ergonomics program we proposed provides a practical, flexible approach to preventing musculoskeletal disorders," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Charles Jeffress. "It reflects industry's best practices by focusing on jobs where problems are severe and solutions are well understood. America's workers have waited a long time for this standard."
OSHA announced the ergonomics proposal on Nov. 22, 1999, after 10 years of study, consultation and analysis. Stakeholders, including employer organizations, small business owners, labor unions, safety and health professionals, were involved in the process. It is expected the standard will spare 300,000 workers from painful, potentially disabling injuries and save the U.S. economy $9 billion each year.
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U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at: http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202)693-4650.