Former OSHA chief Jeffress: Rule was not rushed

From his office in Raleigh, N.C., where he has set up shop as a health and safety consultant, former OSHA chief Charles Jeffress told ISHN that he wasn’t “terribly surprised” that Congress acted so quickly after his departure to kill the ergo rules that preoccupied his time in Washington.

“Republicans threatened to use the Congressional Review Act soon after we published the final rule,” said Jeffress.

Jeffress defended OSHA’s expedited rulemaking, saying one year was a reasonable amount of time to finalize the proposed requirements issued in November, 1999. The final rule was issued in November, 2000, shortly after the election.

“There was not a lot of new information presented at the hearings that we had not heard before,” Jeffress said. On average, it should take six months for any proposed rule to be finalized, he said.

The former OSHA chief denied that the rule was rushed out as a favor to organized labor. He said he pushed ergonomic initiatives as head of North Carolina’s OSHA program before coming to Washington, despite only three percent of the state’s workforce being unionized. “There was no pay back to unions, no political pressure to rush. I felt the time to do a standard is now,” said Jeffress.

Despite Congress’s recent action, Jeffress said OSHA will continue to address ergonomics — “It’s just a matter of when and how.”

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