U.S. Department of Labor delays new ergonomics rules
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) delayed the Jan. 11 presentation of its new ergonomics standards after postponing its original fall deadline as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The new standard will provide guidelines to prevent repetitive-stress injuries in the workplace.
DOL plans to issue voluntary, flexible workplace ergonomics guidelines based on current science and research. The new guidelines emphasize the importance of injury prevention, specifically repetitive strain and musculoskeletal injuries inflicted on the job.
In 2001, Congress rescinded the original mandatory guidelines established by the Clinton administration. These guidelines required employers to develop ergonomics programs and alter jobs that cause repetitive-stress injuries.
Ergonomics injuries are caused by heavy lifting, repetitive work and poorly designed jobs. One-third of all work-related injuries are caused by musculoskeletal disorders.
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao presented new ergonomics principles in a statement to Congress in April 2001. Chao would not establish a time frame for enacting a new ergonomics standard.
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