"It has been a year now that America's workers have been waiting for the Department of Labor to adopt a new ergonomics standard. I look forward to hearing from the Secretary of Labor on this issue at the Committee's hearing on March 14th," said Committee Chair Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a statement.
After Congress struck down the ergo rules issued in the last days of the Clinton administration, the Bush team promised to follow up with its own strategy. The plan was first set to be unveiled last fall, but was pushed back to a December deadline after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Since the end-of-the-year deadline passed, OSHA officials have been vague and noncommittal about when an ergo initiative will be released.
That silence could be broken by Ms. Chao at the hearing on March 14. Most OSHA watchers expect the agency to develop best practices guidelines to reduce repetitive strain injuries. That last thing expected is another stab at a formal standard, according to most sources.