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Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Monday, May 3, 1999

Contact: Susan Hall Fleming
(202) 693-1999

Statement of Charles N. Jeffress
Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health

Background:The Small Business Review Panel has submitted its report on OSHA's draft proposed ergonomics program rule to Assistant Secretary Jeffress as required under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). The report provides a synthesis of advice and recommendations from small entity representatives on ways to minimize the burden of the rule on small businesses while protecting workers against the significant risk of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The panel was composed of representatives from OSHA, the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration, and it heard comments from 20 people representing small businesses.

Statement: I want to express my thanks to the panel for their hard work in analyzing and presenting issues raised by the 20 small businesses who participated in this process. I particularly appreciate the willingness of the small business representatives to thoroughly study and evaluate our draft proposed ergonomics program standard. Their input is invaluable to us as we work together to establish a rule that protects workers and makes sense for business.

The report identifies a number of issues that we will want to examine more closely as we refine our draft proposal. We want language that is clear and provisions that are cost-effective and protective. We will base the standard on the practical experience of employers who have been successful in developing ergonomics programs to reduce work-related injuries.

The SBREFA panel report provides useful information that will enable us to improve the draft proposal before it is published for full public comment and debate later this year. Based upon the report, we will be conducting further analyses of our draft proposal, modifying some of the language in it and offering alternative suggestions for the public to comment upon during the public comment period.