Already, groups who favored the OSHA ergo standard shot down in Congress earlier this year are using words like "charade" and "rear guard action" to describe the forums. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is using the meetings to help decide if another standard, voluntary guidelines, or best practices policies represent the best course of action.
"Chao is clearly identified as the administration's main ring leader and lead flack generator on ergo," says a union safety and health official.
"The administration would be happy not to do anything (about ergonomics)," but politically it must show some compassion, said one Washington source.
Several sources say the last thing they expect from the Bush administration is another ergo standard. "You're not going to see standards on anything in the next three years," said one source, citing recent conversations with high-level OSHA officials. "They may work on standards, but nothing will come out."