The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have voted to repeal a Clinton administration rule designed to prevent workplace injuries that business interests had deemed overreaching and too costly. President Bush has indicated he will sign the legislation.
"It's probably the most expensive, intrusive regulation ever promulgated, certainly by the Department of Labor, maybe by government entirely,” said Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles (R), the bill’s sponsor.
The Clinton administration issued Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations in mid-November to force employers to adopt preventive measures to avoid workplace injuries caused by repetitive strain.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao sent her assurances that she intends to pursue a comprehensive approach to ergonomics, which she said may include a new rulemaking to address the concerns raised against the current standard.
Republican senators used a little-known law called the Congressional Review Act, which enabled them to vote to overturn the regulations after just 10 hours of debate. The rules had gone into effect in January, and businesses would have had until October to comply.
The American Trucking Assns. is one of several lobbying groups that have been trying to get the rules overturned.
“In the absence of government regulation, the business of trucking has made significant progress on its own,” said ATA president and CEO Walter B. McCormick Jr. “This industry should not be penalized for its good-faith efforts by an unscientific, unfair and unfeasible regulation."