Labor Secretary Elaine Chao might have been speaking specifically about ways to address ergonomic problems when she testified before a Senate committee in late April, but her “guiding principles” will likely shape OSHA’s direction on many fronts during the Bush years in Washington.

Here are Chao’s principles for attacking ergo hazards, which could easily be adopted for other issues:

  • Prevention — Place greater emphasis on preventing injuries before they occur.

  • Sound Science — Any approach should be based on the best available science and research.

  • Incentive-Driven — Cooperation between OSHA and employers is a must.

  • Flexibility — Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.

  • Feasibility — Small businesses need any future action to recognize cost of compliance.

  • Clarity — Any approach must include short, simple, and common sense instructions.

Chao made no specific commitment to restart the ergo standards-setting process. She did say any new Bush administration effort would focus only on high-risk jobs, and workers would not be paid for their injuries.

At a Capitol Hill press conference held the day before Chao testified, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney was joined by Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Tom Harkin, and Paul Wellstone in demanding that a new rule be developed immediately.