National News Release:
Wednesday, June 23, 1999
Contact: David Saltz (202) 693-4650 / Susan Hall Fleming(202) 693-1999
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF LABOR ALEXIS M. HERMAN
Background: Today, the Committee on Education and the Workforce voted to require OSHA to delay publication of its ergonomics standard. The committee wants to wait for the results of a second National Academy of Sciences literature review expected sometime in 2001. OSHA predicts that if it is delayed from promulgating a fair and effective ergonomic standard for another two years more than one million additional workers will suffer painful, preventable injuries and illnesses and the U.S. economy will lose more than $100 billion.
I am deeply disappointed that the Committee on Education and the Workforce does not see the need to act promptly to protect Americans from on-the-job biomechanical stress. More than one million Americans will suffer work-related musculoskeletal disorders before the National Academy of Sciences completes its second review of the scientific literature on ergonomics.
If Congress passes this bill I will urge the President to veto it. The scientific and medical experts agree. Biomechanical stress at work causes injury. Even more important, we know how to reduce these stresses and cut the risk of injury.
It's time we put into action what we have learned in the past 20 years about preventing disabling biomechanical injuries, it's time to slash the $20 billion that employers pay each year in worker compensation costs, and it's time to protect American workers. We cannot afford to delay any longer.
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