A year ago, OSHA officials were touting 2000 as a big year, with final standards coming out on recordkeeping and ergonomics, and proposed rules issued for safety and health program requirements.

That was then, this is now.

The revised injury and illness recordkeeping rule was slated to be issued by July 1, 2000, in order to go into effect January 1, 2001. But as of last week, the revisions were still being studied at the Department of Labor and had yet to undergo review by the Office of Management and Budget. That makes meeting the July 1 deadline very tight, if not impossible, according to one source familiar with the process who was interviewed by Industrial Safety & Hygiene News.

Meanwhile, the safety and health program rule, once promoted by OSHA as the centerpiece of its standards-setting agenda, now is in limbo as almost all available agency resources are put into the ergo effort. OSHA’s latest regulatory calendar gives no dates for the next action to be taken on safety and health program requirements.

Hearings on the ergonomics standard wrapped up in early May, and sources say OSHA is determined to issue final requirements by the end of the year. “(OSHA chief) Charles (Jeffress) is absolutely committed to making it happen,” says one source. “He’s seized on ergonomics as a measure of his success, and he’s one stubborn guy.”

But Jeffress only controls the fate of the ergo rule up to a point. Will DOL higher-ups, OMB, and the White House allow him to meet the December deadline? “Politics, not science or law, will decide in the end,” says another source.