[Congressional Record Volume 147, Number 28 (Tuesday, March 6, 2001)]
[Pages S1831-S1846]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the joint 
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A joint resolution (S.J. Res. 6) providing for 
     congressional disapproval of the rules submitted by the 
     Department of Labor under chapter 8 of title 5, United States 
     Code, relating to ergonomics.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. NICKLES. Mr. President, I yield to the Senator from Vermont such 
time as he may desire.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Vermont is 
  Mr. JEFFORDS. Mr. President, I rise today to address S.J. Res. 6, 
which provides for congressional disapproval of the Occupational Safety 
and Health

[[Page S1832]]

Administration's recently promulgated ergonomics standard. This action 
is being taken pursuant to the Congressional Review Act provisions 
incorporated into the APA in 1996. If successful, it will be the first 
time that the CRA has been used to invalidate an agency regulation. It 
will send a strong message to Federal agencies that Congress is serious 
that the intent of the CRA--that agencies issue more flexible and less 
burdensome rules, and be more responsive, and open, to input from the 
regulated public--is followed.
  I will leave it to my colleagues to discuss the numerous problems 
with the Clinton Administration's regulation, such as its flawed 
rulemaking process, its extraordinary potential costs, its encroachment 
on state administered workers compensation programs, and its 
complexities and vagueness to the point of unworkability. I have to 
note, however, that the ergonomics rule certainly qualifies as a 
``midnight'' regulation, which is exactly the sort of rulemaking that, 
in great part, led to enactment of the CRA. And I note further that the 
CRA is not radical legislation. In fact, it passed with broad 
bipartisan support, was signed by a Democratic President, and earlier 
versions of the legislation twice passed the House and four times the 
  Passage of the CRA was an exercise by Congress of its oversight and 
legislative responsibility. It was intended to compel bureaucrats to 
consider the economic effect of their regulations and to reclaim some 
of Congress' policymaking authority which had been ceded to the 
executive branch because of the increasing complexities of statutory 
programs, and the resultant reliance on agency rulemaking. But my 
purpose today is not to focus on the merits of the Congressional Review 
  OSHA has admitted that repetitive stress injuries have declined 22 
percent over the last five years. This statistic proves two things: 
One, that there is a musculoskeletal disorder problem in the workplace. 
And two, that employers are cognizant of the problem, and addressing 
it. Further, the dramatic reduction illustrates that there are ways to 
reduce, and perhaps eradicate, MSDs in the workplace, in part by use of 
the science of ergonomics. OSHA, unfortunately, has continued to ignore 
these lessons and refuses to revise its approach that the stick is more 
effective than the carrot. This is proven by the very standard that is 
before us today.
  Again, however, the most important fact that can be taken from the 
employers' successes in combating repetitive stress injuries over the 
past few years is that apparently there are methods available to attack 
this severe problem. We must continue to encourage the development of 
these innovative approaches. At the same time, we must not lose sight 
of the fact that the administration and the Occupational Safety and 
Health Administration have a role, and a responsibility, in leading the 
attack on these crippling workplace injuries.
  OSHA must not give up its place at the vanguard of the assault on 
workplace MSDs because of the shortcomings of the Clinton 
Administration's ergonomics standard. I urge Labor Secretary Chao, in 
the strongest possible way, to investigate and consider all options, 
including initiation of additional rulemaking, if warranted, as part of 
an all out effort to seek solutions for this type of debilitating 
injury. I have received a letter from Secretary Chao. I ask unanimous 
consent that it be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

       Dear Chairman Jeffords: It is my understanding that the 
     Senate will soon consider a Joint Resolution of Disapproval 
     pertaining to the Occupational Safety and Health 
     Administration's (OSHA) ergonomics standard. As you are 
     aware, the Congressional Review Act of 1996 gives Congress 
     the authority to vitiate this standard and permanently 
     prevent OSHA from promulgating a rule in substantially the 
     same form.
       Let me assure you that, in the event a Joint Resolution of 
     Disapproval becomes law, I intend to pursue a comprehensive 
     approach to ergonomics, which may include new rulemaking, 
     that addresses the concerns levied against the current 
       This approach will provide employers with achievable 
     measures that protect their employees before injuries occur. 
     Repetitive stress injuries in the workplace are an important 
     problem. I recognize this critical challenge and want you to 
     understand that the safety and health of our nation's 
     workforce will always be a priority during my tenure as 
       I look forward to working with each of you throughout the 
     entire 107th Congress.
                                                   Elaine L. Chao,
                                               Secretary of Labor.

  Mr. JEFFORDS. I am heartened by the letter from the Secretary of 
Labor. It indicates that the Administration recognizes there is a 
problem and is committed to finding the answer. To this end, I am 
dismayed by what appears to be a systematic campaign of misinformation, 
and I would like to dispel the myth being perpetuated by those who 
oppose enactment, that adoption of this Resolution of Disapproval will 
sound the death knell for any future ergonomics regulation. That is not 
  Contrary to the misinformation being circulated, passage of the 
resolution of disapproval will not prevent OSHA from undertaking 
rulemaking regarding repetitive stress injuries. As I have already 
stated, I believe that rulemaking is an option that should be given 
serious consideration by the Administration. Secretary Chao agrees. In 
fact, by jettisoning this burdensome and unworkable standard, we will 
be eliminating a roadblock to consideration of more responsible 
approaches directed at resolving the workplace MSD puzzle. One approach 
could well include promulgation of a more reasonable and workable ergo 
  The Congressional Review Act provides, in relevant part, that a rule 
vitiated by enactment of a Joint Resolution of Disapproval ``. . . may 
not be reissued in substantially the same form, and a new rule that is 
substantially the same as such a rule may not be issued, unless the 
reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after 
the date of the joint resolution disapproving the original rule.'' 
While this language appears clear on its face, it is being 
misinterpreted to mean that OSHA cannot regulate in the ``area'' 
covered by the disapproved rule.
  There is no basis nor justification for this interpretation of the 
CRA provision. Where I have seen it mentioned--for example, in a March, 
1999 CRS report--there is no citation of authority to support that 
interpretation. Indeed, it appears to have been created out of whole 
cloth or thin air. The better--in fact, correct--interpretation, 
provided by the actual language of the Statute is that a disapproved 
rule cannot be issued ``in substantially the same form.''
  The intent, and thrust, of this language is made clear in a joint 
statement, by Senators Nickles, Reid of Nevada, and Stevens, submitted 
for the Record on April 18, 1996. The purpose of the Joint Statement 
was to provide a legislative history for guidance in interpreting the 
terms of the Congressional Review Act. The Joint Statement indicates 
that the ``substantially the same form'' language that I quoted above, 
was ``necessary to prevent circumvention of a resolution [of] 
disapproval.'' Thus, the concern clearly was that an agency should not 
be able to reissue a disapproved rule merely by making minor changes, 
thereby claiming that the reissued regulation was a different entity.
  This interpretation is confirmed by further discussion in the joint 
statement about the differing impact a disapproval would have depending 
upon whether the law that authorized the disapproved rule provided 
broad or narrow discretion to the issuing agency regarding the 
substance of such rule. Where such underlying law provides broad 
discretion, the agency would be able to exercise that discretion to 
issue a substantially different rule, but where the discretion is 
narrowly circumscribed, the disapproval might work to prevent issuance 
of another rule.
  OSHA, of course, has enormously broad regulatory authority. Section 6 
of the OSH Act is a grant of broad authority to issue workplace safety 
and health standards. To prove this point, one need look no farther 
than the scope of the ergonomics regulation before us. OSHA, in fact, 
considers its authority so broad that it ignored, in issuing its ergo 
standard, the clear statutory mandate in section 4 of the OSH Act not 
to regulate in the area of workmen's compensation law. And the 
definition of ``occupational safety and

[[Page S1833]]

health standard,'' in section 3(8) of the Act, is further indicative of 
the discretion granted to the agency. I am convinced that the CRA will 
not act as an impediment to OSHA should the agency decide to engage in 
ergonomics rulemaking.
  Some might question why now utilize the Congressional Review Act 
disapproval procedures instead of reviewing or amending the ergo 
standard through other means, such as additional notice and comment 
rulemaking, or by permitting the legal challenges to be brought to 
conclusion. The answer is simple. The CRA is being used in precisely 
the manner Congress intended.
  As noted in the April 18, 1996 Joint Report, certain timing 
provisions in the CRA were put in place ``. . . to try to provide 
Congress with an opportunity to act on resolutions of disapproval 
before regulated parties must invest the significant resources 
necessary to comply with a major rule.'' And, I might add, scarce 
agency resources are also a concern. The standard before us certainly 
is a major rule, and the estimated compliance costs are huge.
  For all of the reasons stated above, I believe that OSHA's ergonomics 
standard presents the ideal case in which to exercise the disapproval 
provisions of the Congressional Review Act. An over broad, vague, and 
unworkable standard may act as a disincentive to development of 
reasonable and rational approaches to a serious problem. In addition, 
huge compliance costs do not encourage compliance and, in fact, may be 
beyond the resources of many small businesses. This may be the case 
where no standard is preferable to the standard promulgated by OSHA. 
But I am convinced that this is not the bottom line. OSHA can issue 
another ergonomics standard. I urge the secretary of Labor to consider 
this option.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Oklahoma is 
  Mr. NICKLES. Mr. President, I tell my friend from Massachusetts I 
will be brief because he has a lengthy statement. Let me make a few 
brief comments. We have 10 hours of debate on the issue under the 
Congressional Review Act. I expect we will be going back and forth. 
That is 5 hours on each side. We can have ample debate and discussion. 
I think that is healthy and very good.
  One of the reasons Senator Reid and I worked so hard and we passed 
the Congressional Review Act was that Congress would review regulations 
that had a negative impact or an impact on the economy in excess of 
$100 million a year. That makes sense. The idea of, wait a minute, 
should you have regulatory agencies passing measures that have a 
profound impact on the economy without holding Congress accountable? 
Congress should have some say. And sometimes do the regulatory agencies 
go too far? Sometimes it is their own fault. Sometimes we tell them, to 
pass some regulation and make the world safer, sounder, cleaner, 
whatever, without considering the cost or impact. We have done that in 
  What we did when we passed the Congressional Review Act was say we 
should review those regulations if they have an economic impact in 
excess of $100 million and find out how does this make sense. Is it a 
good deal? Is it a good deal for the economy? Is it a good deal for 
taxpayers to invest this kind of money? Congress should have a say.
  The bureaucrats who write the regulations are not elected; we are. 
That was the purpose of the Congressional Review Act. This is the first 
time we will utilize that act. I believe in this case the regulation 
promulgated by the Clinton administration in the Federal Register, 
dated November 14, 2000, which is over 6,000 pages long, went too far. 
All legislators who believe in division of power when reviewing this 
regulation will say the Clinton administration, in its last 4 days, 
went way too far and exceeded their constitutional authority. The 
President is President; he is not chief legislator.
  In this legislation, in this regulation, they went into legislating. 
They went into devising a Federal system of workers compensation.
  If Members want to pass a Federal workers compensation law, introduce 
a bill. It would go, I assume, to the Education and Labor Committee. It 
would be marked up. Have that process go forward if we are going to 
pass Federal workers compensation.
  I have asked a couple of former Governors on the Democrat side if 
they knew there was Federal workers compensation in the ergonomic 
standard. Do they know this has a compensation system that is much 
greater than most State workers compensation laws? Most Senators 
answered no.
  This has Federal workers compensation that supersedes State worker 
compensation laws. If you have any respect for the Constitution, if you 
have any respect for Members as legislators, you should say no 
bureaucrat, no official in the Department of Labor--who, incidentally, 
is probably not there anymore--can make that kind of imposition. That 
requires Federal legislative action. If someone wants to promulgate 
that kind of rule, let them introduce this as a statute. Let's debate 

  I don't think anyone will debate it. This is not defensible. How in 
the world can you come up with a Federal workers comp law that 
supersedes State law that is more generous? It might be proposed, but 
my guess is it would never pass, nor should it.
  Yet in this case we have unelected bureaucrats who say: Let's make 
this the law of the land. Is he super Senator? Is he super legislator? 
Where did he get this kind of authority?
  I appeal to my colleagues, Democrat or Republican, review the 
contents of this legislation. See how extensive and expensive it is. 
This is probably the most expensive, intrusive regulation ever 
promulgated, certainly by the Department of Labor--maybe by any 
department. It deals with the issue of repetitive motion injuries. It 
is wide open. It could be somebody typing at a desk, somebody standing 
at a checkout line, somebody stacking groceries, somebody moving things 
on trucks. It could apply to almost any job in America. It can be 
enormously expensive.
  Federal bureaucrats are saying you can do this; you can't do that. 
You can only move 25 pounds 25 times a day. A grocery store may have to 
hire 10 times as many people to stock the grocery store. A moving 
company has to move a lot of things. Employees would say: I have to 
stop; it is 8:25, but I have already moved 25 things. Time out. Hire 
more people. Oops, can't do that; we need more people; we need to hire 
more people. Oops, we have to go out of business because we cannot 
comply with this rule.
  There is no way in the world a lot of companies can comply with this 
rule. We would be putting them out of work or out of compliance, 
certainly liable for a lot of money and expense for a regulation that 
goes way too far.
  My primary argument to my colleagues is nobody in OSHA was elected to 
legislate. We are elected to legislate. We, Members of Congress, are 
the legislative branch. Read the Constitution. Article I says Congress 
shall enact all laws. It does not say: unelected bureaucrats, you write 
a law, try and get it enacted, try and get it passed by legislation.
  On January 16, in the last couple of days of the Clinton 
administration, this was a major gift to organized labor, saying, go 
ahead and legislate the last couple days.
  No, we are the legislative body. If we want to legislate in this 
area, introduce a bill and we will consider it. Let's not have, as in 
the last couple of days of the Clinton administration, a regulation 
with costs ranging in excess of $100 billion a year. Let's not let that 
happen. Let's not supersede State worker compensation laws.
  It will be interesting to see how former State Governors and State 
officials vote on this issue. Do they really want the Federal 
Government to supersede State workers compensation laws? I say the 
answer is no.
  I urge all my colleagues, especially colleagues on the Democrat 
side--my colleagues on the Republican side are perhaps more familiar 
with this issue--I urge my colleagues on the Democrat side to review 
this. Do you really want to have a Federal workers compensation law 
passed by regulation superseding State worker compensation laws? I 
think not. I certainly hope not. If that is the case, we have delegated 
so much power to the regulatory agencies we should be ashamed of 

[[Page S1834]]

  I urge my colleagues to review this statute. That is what the 
Congressional Review Act is all about. Let's review it. Let's talk 
about it today. Let's find out how intrusive it is, today. Let's find 
out if it really is the Federal Government taking the place of Congress 
in the legislative field. I believe they went way too far. We did 
introduce a bill 4 or 5 years ago, Senator Reid and myself, and it 
passed both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly, signed by President 
Clinton. It is a good law. It was written for such items as this. This 
is an excellent time to review this regulation and stop it.
  Does that mean we are for ergonomic injuries? No. Does that mean we 
shouldn't be taking action in Congress and/or in the Department of 
Labor to try and minimize ergonomic injuries? No. Let's figure out what 
can we do that is affordable, that is doable, that doesn't cost jobs, 
that does improve worker safety, that does reduce or minimize worker 
injury. Let's work on that together. Let's not accept a regulation 
crammed through in the last couple of days of the Clinton 
administration that has economic costs in excess, maybe, of $100 
  One might ask, where do you get that figure? OSHA says it might cost 
$4.5 billion. The Clinton administration's Small Business 
Administration said it could cost up to 15 times that amount. That is 
up to $60 billion a year. Business groups having to comply with this 
say it may well be in excess of $100 billion. There is no way to know 
how much this would cost. It would cost plenty. It would cost jobs.
  Again, this is something that needs to be reviewed by Congress and 
needs to be stopped by Congress. I urge my colleagues to support this 
  For the information of my colleagues, the 10-hour clock is running. 
My guess is we can have a vote this evening, or we will have a vote 
tomorrow morning. People should be on alert we may well work into the 
evening today. Be on guard to expect rollcall votes to occur later this 
evening or tomorrow morning.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. Are we going to alternate back and forth?
  Mr. NICKLES. As manager, I will designate Senator Hutchinson and 
Senator Enzi to manage on our time. We are happy to alternate back and 
forth. We are happy to accommodate our colleagues in any way.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. I ask unanimous consent I be allowed to follow Senator 
Kennedy on our side.
  Mr. NICKLES. I reserve that. Let's not do that just yet.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, this is a matter of enormous importance 
and consequence to America's workers. It will be the first time in the 
history of OSHA that Congress has taken action that will effectively 
terminate the ability of OSHA to protect American workers. It is in an 
area in which there is a growing problem and a growing concern because 
of the increased numbers of ergonomic injuries. In a period of some 10 
hours we are going to undermine the efforts of the Department of Labor 
and OSHA over a period of 10 years. Some have made the comments, rather 
cavalierly, that this is a offhand rule that was developed in the final 
hours of the Clinton administration. Of course that is a complete 
distortion and a complete misrepresentation, as are a number of the 
other recent comments I have heard. I will respond to them in some 
detail at this time.
  It is important to note there has been due process. There are those 
who have differed with the rules and regulations. You would listen to 
this part of the debate and think that those who are against the rules 
and regulations never had an opportunity to make their case during the 
process. Of course that is basically hogwash because they did have that 
  We can also listen to those who say we have to eliminate these 
regulations. Of course there is a process and procedure by which the 
President can modify these rules and regulations, if he doesn't like 
them. That is not the path those who are seeking to overturn these 
regulations are taking. The President of the United States can just 
file, in the Federal Register, a resolution, effectively, of 
disapproval, and wait 60 days and those regulations are effectively 
  The Department of Labor could then go about the process through 
public hearings and alter the regulations. So for those who want to 
bring some modification and change, who think there ought to be some 
opportunity to do something different, that power and authority is 
there today. But that is being rejected by those who want to overturn 
any opportunity to provide any protection for the millions of Americans 
who have been adversely affected, impacted, and injured by ergonomics 
injuries over the past several years. That is what we are looking at.
  With all the talk we have heard already this morning, and we will 
hear later on, we could still have the opportunity to modify and change 
and adjust and go back and trim the regulations. It is a simple 
process. But, no, that technique is being rejected. They are coming in 
here with a blunderbuss and saying, ``We have the votes, we are playing 
hardball''; effectively, ``we are going to give short shrift to the 
American workers''--primarily women because they are the ones most 
adversely impacted. We all have a responsibility to them.
  I mention to my good friend, when he talks about 400 pages of 
regulations--there are 8 pages of regulations; not 400, 8 pages of 
regulations. It is right in here. If the Senator would want to look 
through them, I will be glad to spend some time. Eight pages of 
regulations--it might take someone 20 minutes to read through them. 
Eight pages of regulations--the rest is support.
  It is not the Department of Labor talking about $4 billion of 
expenditures. It is the Department of Labor talking about $4 billion of 
savings. It is a big difference. We have to get our facts straight.
  The same applies to the workers compensation provision. This does not 
undermine States' workers compensation. It has virtually nothing to do 
with workers compensation, other than what has been done traditionally 
with other kinds of OSHA rules and regulations such as for cadmium and 

  There has not been an uproar from the States. I don't hear any. If 
the Senator will have some letters from Governors who talk about how 
their workers compensation has been destroyed, uprooted in ways, we 
would welcome them. We have not seen them. We have not heard from them.
  I ask our Members to pay close attention. What is really at risk here 
is enormously important.
  First of all, we don't have to be here dealing with this issue. We 
could be debating the bankruptcy issue. If we want to be doing that--we 
will have a chance and opportunity to do that --but, nonetheless, one 
of the first orders of business we are coming up to is not to look out 
after minimum wage workers or an increase in the minimum wage. No. We 
don't have that out here. We are not debating a Patients' Bill of 
Rights. It has been before the Congress for 5 years. We are not doing 
that on the floor of the Senate. No, we are not going to consider that. 
We are not debating prescription drugs in the Senate.
  What are we doing? For the first time in the history of the Senate, 
we are talking about repealing protections for workers who are out 
there in the workforce of America with a blunderbuss kind of technique 
that says, ``We have the votes, we are going to repeal it, and as a 
result of that repeal and the statutory provisions, you will not be 
able to have any kind of ergonomic protection for American workers.''
  We have the alternative of trying to change this in a responsible way 
but, oh, no, we are going to show a contemptible attitude, an arrogant, 
contemptible attitude towards the American workers by this blunderbuss 
technique that is being proposed by our colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle.
  I listened when Senator Reid's name was mentioned. He supported the 
concept of CRA, but he is strongly opposed to the actions being 
recommended by the Republican leadership.
  We all have a responsibility to protect the safety and health of 
workers on the job. Today the most significant safety and health 
problems that workers face are debilitating and career-ending ergonomic 
injuries. Millions of workers and their families suffer needlessly. 
These injuries can be prevented by simple, inexpensive changes in the 
workplace. This rule is about prevention, preventing the injury. That 

[[Page S1835]]

what this rule is about. We know the injuries are out there. We know 
what can be done in order to diminish the number of injuries and that 
is what this rule targets.
  The Department of Labor's solution to this problem has been sound, 
sensible, and necessary. It is flexible and cost-effective for 
businesses, and it is overwhelmingly based upon scientific evidence. It 
has the support of virtually every health science professional group 
and their representatives. Every one of them has supported this 
proposal, every one of them--but not the Chamber of Commerce and the 
National Association of Manufacturers.
  But if you are talking about protecting workers and you are talking 
about the medical implications and the health implications, every 
organization that is concerned with that supports these proposals.
  If people have differences about the specifics of this solution, we 
can work them out in a bipartisan way. The President can stop this 
regulation and issue a new one if he doesn't like it. But in 10 hours 
of debate today, the Republicans intend to destroy this crucial 
protection that was begun over 10 years ago by the Secretary of Labor, 
Elizabeth Dole.

  In the 30 years that the job safety laws have been in effect, 
Congress has never taken away a protection for workers. Listen to me. 
In the 30 years the job safety law has been in effect, Congress has 
never taken away protection for workers. This could be the first. 
``Don't alter it, don't change it, don't modify it--eliminate it. We 
have the votes. That is what we are going to do.'' This is a 
contemptible attitude towards the working families in this country.
  One of the most essential roles of government is to protect its 
citizens. We protect public safety by providing a police force. We 
protect public health by regulating prescription drugs and food safety 
by rules and regulations by the FDA. Maybe there are those who want to 
eliminate all the rules and regulations.
  The FDA isn't elected either, but they have rules and regulations to 
ensure safety and efficacy. We gave them that power. We gave them that 
responsibility. Are we suggesting now, since they are not elected to 
the Senate of the United States, how outrageous that they look out 
after protecting America from the scourge of different diseases that 
have ravaged our civilizations in the past--hoof and mouth disease, mad 
cow disease? Let's get those professionals out. They are not elected. 
Let's just free ourselves from regulations. It may cost the meat 
manufacturers and producers a few more bucks because they have to be 
inspected. Let's free ourselves from those matters. These are the same 
issues--health and safety. The same issues.
  We are protecting workers on the job today. If they are going to 
eliminate those protections today, what regulations are they going to 
eliminate tomorrow? We came very close to it 3, 4 years ago, 
eliminating protective regulations in food safety--the elimination of 
the Delaney clause--and many others. We came within a vote or two of 
eliminating those. The same forces are out there.
  Today it is the safety in the workforce. Tomorrow it is going to be 
food, health, and well-being, and the air that we breathe and the water 
that we drink. Make no mistake about it. The greed is unbelievable. 
That is what it is all about. What do you think this is about? It is 
about bucks. It is about money. It is money on the one side; what the 
Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers want 
versus trying to invest and protect American workers. It is greed. It 
is money. It says that we are not really interested in safety. If they 
were interested in it, they would want to be responsible. Why do they 
drop this in the middle of the night? We found out in the magazines and 
newspapers on Sunday that this technique was going to be used now. Why 
not mention it and try to work this out? Is this the beginning of the 
process or the end of the process?
  Why not bring up the Patients' Bill of Rights? Why not, even though 
the President indicated a month ago that he wanted to work this out? We 
said fine; we will try to work it out. A month has passed. Are we 
bringing that up? No. Not the Republican leadership. No. Oh, no. They 
are just dropping this right out here. ``We have the votes. We have the 
votes and are going to pursue it.'' So they do.
  We protect the public safety by a police force, the public health by 
regulating prescription drugs and food safety. We require seatbelts in 
automobiles. When Americans are at risk, it is the duty of government 
to do whatever we can to protect them. That is our job. That is our 
responsibility as public servants. That is why we have laws and 
regulations to protect our citizens in the workplace.
  I was in the Senate during the years when we heard the same voices we 
are hearing from that side of the aisle opposing the OSHA program. I 
will tell you this. OSHA has reduced the number of deaths in the 
workplace by half over the period of the last 27 or 28 years. It has 
saved an enormous number of lives, and it has protected health and 
well-being. But we heard at that time: Why are we going to do that? 
That is going to interfere with American business and their ability to 
produce American goods. Don't you think American industry is concerned 
about those workers? Of course they said they passed it.
  Sure, there have been some actions OSHA has taken with which we don't 
all agree. But, nonetheless, if you look, particularly in the last 
several years, the record in terms of the number of lives that have 
been saved as compared to other times has been credible and defensible.
  Over our history, and in the early years of the last century, we have 
fought long battles for the safety of factory workers. We struggled 
long and hard to improve the working conditions of our mine workers--
one of the most dangerous jobs in America. We took steps to guard 
against child labor and other abusive practices.
  Over the past 10 years, America has taken the next important step to 
protect workers against the kinds of injuries that occur in the modern 
workplace--so-called ergonomic injuries.
  Yesterday, workers lost their limbs in factories. Today's workers 
suffer crippling pain in their wrists and in their hands because of 
computer keyboards. That is an ergonomic injury.
  Yesterday, workers were burned in steel mills. Today's workers 
develop chronic back injuries from standing too long behind the lunch 
counter, carrying heavy trays of food, and sitting for long hours in 
their offices and chairs that harm their backs. Those are ergonomic 
  The resolution before us today is a complete about-face in the long 
march of protecting our workers. In a single vote, we will tell 
millions of Americans--mostly women--that their work doesn't matter. 
This resolution is antiworker, antiwoman, antifamily, and it deserves 
to be soundly defeated.
  We all know what is going on. We could have sat down and worked this 
out in a bipartisan way. If President Bush disagrees with this current 
regulation, he could issue a new one. But, instead, our Republican 
friends took the course that hurt workers the most--banishing this 
important safety initiative to the dungeon.
  If you do not like the last administration's approach to worker 
safety, Mr. President, then change it. Don't destroy it--because the 
health and safety of millions of American workers is at stake. 
Otherwise, this may well mean that all the talk about a new civility in 
Washington is just a hoax. Instead of helping hard-working families, 
this resolution is a big ``thank you'' to big business for all their 
support. It is politics at its worst.
  It leaves the average American worker defenseless against today's 
workplace injuries. With Republicans in control of Congress and the 
White House, it is trample-down economics for American workers. Let 
American workers be on guard. Your rights and your dignity and your 
hard work are no longer respected. Today your safety is on the chopping 
block. Tomorrow it is going to be your medical leave or your ability to 
spend more time with your families, for our Republican friends can act 
today on this issue with such disregard for your labors, your hard-won 
workers' rights, your safety.
  The Department of Labor's ergonomics rule is sound, sensible, and 
necessary. I strongly oppose this resolution of disapproval. If 
Congress passes this resolution, it will have destroyed in 10 hours 
what it took the

[[Page S1836]]

Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10 painstaking years to 
create and will deprive workers of all of the protections from the No. 
1 risk to health and safety in the workplace.
  I have both good news and bad news today. The bad news is that 
ergonomic injuries are painful and often debilitating. They are common 
and they are caused by workplace practices.
  The good news is that these injuries are readily preventable, and the 
ergonomics rule offers an effective way to address workplace hazards.
  The worst news is that Congress today will prevent OSHA from 
implementing this or any other rule that will protect workers from 
these significant risks to their health and to their safety.
  My colleagues should make no mistake about the result of the 
resolution of disapproval that is before us. It is an atom bomb for the 
ergonomics rule.
  Supporters of this resolution insist they can use it to fix the 
ergonomics rule and send it back to the drawing board. They are wrong. 
The language of the resolution is clear and nonamendable and will 
eliminate the rule altogether.
  Until Congress gives it permission, OSHA will be powerless to adopt 
an ergonomics rule that, like this one, truly solves the problem. If 
the resolution's supporters have their way, all of this will be done 
today without any opportunity for committee input or for reasoned 
consideration on the Senate floor.
  Our debate is limited to a maximum of 10 hours. This resolution is 
not subject to motions to amend, to postpone, to move to other 
business, or to recommit to committee. All points of order are waived, 
and appeals from decisions of the Chair are nondebatable.
  This expedited process will not be used to disapprove a rule that an 
agency clearly lacks authority to issue. It will not be used to 
disapprove a rule that lacks any basis in scientific evidence. It will 
not be used to disapprove a rule that was adopted without adequate 
opportunity for public notice and comment. Instead, this fast-track 
procedure will be used to eliminate a rule that goes to the heart of 
the Federal Government's mission to protect workers' safety and 
health. That is supported by thousands of scientific studies. And that 
is the product of 10 years of study, 9 weeks of public hearings, and 11 
best practice conferences all over the country, bringing employers and 
workers together to try to describe what is and isn't working. That's 
11 conferences all over the Nation, 9 weeks of public hearings, and 
close to 4 months of opportunity for written comment from the public. 
This is an unprecedented attack on our workers' fundamental right to 
safe workplaces.

  As long ago as 1990, Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole called 
ergonomic injuries ``one of the nation's most debilitating across-the-
board worker safety and health illnesses.'' I wish we heard from the 
other side at least some recognition, some understanding, some 
awareness, some sensitivity to the workers who are being injured by 
ergonomic injuries every single day in America. But we do not. It is 
all technical language: ``We don't want to interfere with workers' 
compensation. There are 400 pages in this book over here. The 
Department of Labor says X, Y, and Z.''
  We are talking about family members. We are talking about workers who 
are providing for their families, who are playing by the rules, trying 
to put in a good day's work in order to provide for their families. 
They ought to be given the assurances about preventing these kinds of 
injuries if we have the knowledge, the awareness, and understanding, 
and we can do it in an affordable way.
  We will come back in a few moments and get into the costs on these 
issues. It is quite clear, if we are able to have an effective rule, 
this will actually save money and increase productivity and lower the 
cost of workers' compensation.
  Now this is what Secretary Elizabeth Dole said in 1990:

       We must do our utmost to protect workers from these 

  She also said:

       By reducing repetitive motion injuries, we will increase 
     both the safety and productivity of America's workforce.

  As all the study, data, and personal experience since have amply 
shown, she was right.
  Each year, over 1.8 million workers report that they have suffered 
from ergonomic injuries. Another 1.8 million incur ergonomic injuries 
that they do not report. What this means is simple: Over the 10 years 
of study OSHA devoted to this rule, America's working men and women 
endured over 18 million unnecessary injuries.
  The average cost of these injuries--severe injuries--is anywhere from 
$25,000 to $27,000. I do not know what the value is in terms of denying 
someone their opportunity to use their hands, use their arms. What is 
the cost if they cannot use their fingers, cannot use their wrists, not 
only in the workplace but in terms of being able to pick up a child or 
be able to walk with a child or play with a child when they are growing 
up--all of the personal kinds of important opportunities in life that 
give individuals a sense of the joy of life?
  What does it cost here? That is what we are debating. The Chamber of 
Commerce says it is too much. But 10 years of studies, evaluations, and 
best practices said that this can be done, and done in a way that will 
save money for American business.
  You have two entirely different viewpoints. Do we have a chance to 
examine them? No. They say: ``We have the votes.'' We have how many 
hours left now? Nine more hours left? Nine more hours left until we can 
finish this rule off? That is the attitude of those who want to repeal 
this rule.

  The statistics also show how serious this problem is. More than 
600,000 workers lose a day or more from work each year because of these 
injuries. Indeed, the Academy of Sciences estimates this number is even 
higher, that over 1 million workers lose time at work because of their 
ergonomic injuries.
  This is the Academy of Sciences. No, they are not elected to 
anything. But they are the Academy of Sciences, universally respected. 
And that is what they found, I say to Senators--1 million a year. And 
in 10 hours we are throwing out rules that can provide protection for 
these workers.
  Ergonomic injuries account for over one-third of all serious job-
related injuries and over two-thirds of all job-related illnesses. The 
injuries are costly. In a definitive study released only 6 weeks ago, 
the National Academy of Sciences estimated ergonomic injuries cost the 
Nation $50 billion annually in workers compensation costs--$50 billion 
now annually today if we do nothing. That isn't the Senator from 
Massachusetts saying that. That is the National Academy of Sciences 
saying that: $50 billion if we do nothing, in terms of workers 
compensation, absenteeism, and lost productivity.
  In fact, ergonomic injuries account for $1 in every $3 that employers 
spend for workers' compensation costs. That is a cost of $15 to $18 
billion every year in workers' compensation costs.
  These injuries are painful and often crippling. They range from 
carpal tunnel syndrome, to severe back injuries, to disorders of the 
muscles and nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome keeps workers off the job 
longer than any other workplace injury. This injury alone causes 
workers to lose an average of more than 25 days, compared to 17 days 
for fractures and 20 days for amputations.
  These injuries affect all of us. Carpal tunnel syndrome afflicts 
nurses. It hurts truck drivers and cooks. It affects secretaries, 
cashiers, and hairdressers. It threatens any of us who use a computer 
or lift heavy objects or bend to pick things up. We are all at risk.
  And even if each of us individually has not yet suffered a repetitive 
stress injury, we all know people who have. They are mothers, fathers, 
brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and neighbors--and they deserve our 
help. But contrary to what the good Senator from Oklahoma says, there 
are broad industries which are left out. This rule is a rather 
reasonable rule and quite narrow. It does not affect agriculture. It 
does not affect the maritime industry, railroads, or construction. 
Those industries are left out. They are left out for other reasons. I 
can come back to them later.
  So this idea of what is going to happen to workers' compensation and 
the number of pages of the rule, and what is the cost going to be, and 
about all the industry affected, we have to get down to the real facts.

[[Page S1837]]

  Women are disproportionately harmed by ergonomic hazards. Women make 
up 47 percent of the overall workforce, but in 1998 they accounted for 
64 percent of the repetitive motion injuries and 71 percent of the 
carpal tunnel cases.
  I will show you this chart very quickly. I see others on the floor, 
Senator Feinstein and others, who will speak to this in greater detail.
  Women are 47 percent of the total workforce. Of the total number of 
injured workers, they are only 33 percent. But if you are looking at 
ergonomic hazards, lost work time from repetitive motion injuries, in 
1998, women accounted for 64 percent of those who had repetitive motion 
injuries and 71 percent of those who lost time for carpal tunnel 
injuries. This is a rule about protecting women in the workforce, 
because of changes in terms of our new economy primarily, and for other 
reasons as well.

  These women are not faceless numbers. We are talking about workers 
such as Beth Piknick from Massachusetts, who was an intensive care 
nurse for 21 years before a preventable back injury required her to 
undergo a spinal fusion operation and spend 2 years in rehabilitation. 
Although she wants to work, she can no longer do so. In her own words:

       The loss of my ability to take care of patients led to a 
     clinical depression . . . My ability to take care of 
     patients--the reason I became a nurse--is gone. My injury--
     and all the losses it has entailed--were preventable.

  We are talking about workers such as Elly Leary, an auto assembly 
person at the now-closed General Motors assembly plant in Framingham, 
MA. Like many, many of her coworkers, she suffered a series of 
ergonomic injuries--including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. 
Like others, she tried switching hands to do the job. She tried varying 
the sequence of the routine. She even bid on other jobs. But nothing 
helped. Today, years after her injury, when she wakes up in the 
morning, her hands are in a claw-like shape. To get them to open, she 
has to run hot water on them.
  We are talking about workers such as Charley Richardson, a shipfitter 
at General Dynamics in Quincy, MA, in the mid-1980s. He suffered a 
career-ending back injury when he was told to install a 75-pound piece 
of steel to reinforce a deck. Although he continued to try to work, he 
found that on many days he could not endure the lifting and the use of 
heavy tools. For years afterwards, his injury prevented him from 
participating in basic activities. But the loss that hurt the most was 
having to tell his children they could not sit on his lap for more than 
a few minutes because it was too painful. To this day, he cannot sit 
for long without pain.
  We are talking about workers such as Wendy Scheinfeld of Brighton, 
MA, a model employee in the insurance industry. Colleagues say she 
often put in extra hours to ``get the job done.'' As a result, Wendy 
has lost the use of her hands, and is now permanently unable to do her 
job, drive a car, play the cello, or shop for groceries.

  The ergonomics rule was too late to help Beth, Elly, Charley, and 
Wendy. And there will be many, many more like them if Congress takes 
away the protections of the rule now.
  This is because there is now conclusive, indisputable evidence that 
workplace practices cause ergonomic injuries. Dr. Jeremiah Barondess, 
the chair of the panel of experts that conducted the comprehensive 
study of the ergonomics issue for the National Academy of Sciences, has 
pointedly stated that there is a ``clear causal relationship'' between 
working conditions and ergonomic injuries.
  And in case anyone has forgotten, this NAS study was the very study 
that opponents of the ergonomics rule said would inform their views on 
the issue. Time and time again, my colleagues across the aisle urged us 
to wait for more evidence that ergonomic injuries were a problem, that 
workplace practices were responsible for these injuries, that these 
injuries could be prevented. These were unjustified delaying tactics. 
But if anyone thought there was any doubt at all about these issues, 
they now have their answer. To suggest that these issues are debatable 
is, quite simply, preposterous.
  Mr. President, I will come back later on. There are other points I 
wish to make. I note a number of my colleagues on the floor.
  I underscore a very simple and basic thought: This rule has been in 
the making 10 years, weeks of hearings and examination and evaluation, 
studied by the Academy of Sciences and by every scientific group, 
supported by virtually all of the health community that has expertise 
in these areas. There was a simple technique by which this rule could 
have been altered or changed, a very simple technique. That is being 
rejected. If you are for some modification, any modification at all, 
you ought to reject this proposal. That way, it will still be possible 
to bring about some changes in the ergonomic rules.
  But instead, what we are being asked to do is to accept lock, stock, 
and barrel that we are going to reject this rule that will effectively 
close out any opportunity to protect these workers for the first time 
in 30 years.
  I cannot think of many health and safety rules and regulations which 
the Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers 
has supported to protect American workers. If there are some, I hope we 
have the chance to hear it from the other side. They have been 
basically opposed to these regulations. They think they have the votes 
now not only to modify it but to end this rule, which addresses the No. 
1 health and safety issue for American workers today. That is basically 
wrong. It was recognized as being a major problem by the wife of our 
former Republican majority leader, Elizabeth Dole, over 10 years ago. 
There has been nothing that has happened since that time to indicate to 
the contrary.
  On the contrary, there is constant scientific evidence to demonstrate 
that this is a problem, that this rule has been carefully considered 
and, finally, that this rule, when it is implemented, will actually 
save money because it will reduce workers' compensation, reduce 
absenteeism, and increase productivity. That is why the Department of 
Labor in its evaluation finds that instead of this problem costing $50 
billion a year, we will actually save more than $4 billion a year.
  I reserve my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hutchinson). The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I thank the Chair for the opportunity to 
comment, and I thank the Senator from Massachusetts for so well setting 
up the comments I have.
  There was a reason for the Congressional Review Act being passed, a 
good reason for it. You could even assume there was a good reason on 
the basis that it was passed in a very bipartisan way. First, 
cosponsors of it were Mr. Nickles, the Senator from Oklahoma, and Mr. 
Reid, the Senator from Nevada--one from each side. How good of a job 
did they do of persuading you that this was a good law to put in place? 
I am not sure what precipitated it. I assume that some agency jerked 
the Congress around, and Congress believed it was time to jerk them 
back to reality. Not one of you voted against the CRA.
  There is a need to have an act such as the CRA. That need exists when 
an agency fails to listen to a single comment on the work they are 
doing, when they are so sure of their work that they will not listen to 
hearings; that they will not listen to Congress; that they will not 
listen to experts; that they continue to do exactly the same thing they 
did before. Wait a minute. No, they did make some changes. They made it 
far worse. They took the comments they got, and they opposed everything 
and incorporated things in this that were worse than in the law that 
was passed.
  We can't have agencies taking that kind of action. We know this is a 
divided Congress. My bet is that there will still be a very bipartisan 
action to pass this resolution we are voting on today to eliminate the 
rule as was proposed, as was printed, as is now in effect.
  There has been a suggestion that we should trim it. I could go along 
with that. But where would you start? I am holding 600 pages of stuff 
that the average American businessman cannot understand. Yes, he can 
hire technical experts who will help him with it at great expense. But 
even the technical experts are divided.

[[Page S1838]]

  This little document includes by reference eight more documents. This 
isn't the whole load that a small businessman has to carry around this 
country. Let me ask you if you have received those eight documents and 
read those eight documents. I can tell you conclusively, you have not. 
One of those documents isn't even available. The people, when you call 
them and ask for the document, say: Don't bother us anymore.
  This is ridiculous. One document referred to in this rule you can't 
even get. Some of my colleagues say the rule is really a short rule. Is 
it 400 pages? Is it six pages? Is it eight pages? Is it 20 pages? You 
can argue for all of those numbers. You can argue for 800 pages. But if 
you really count what the small businessmen in America are going to 
have to read, you will find that it is 800 pages. To say that this 
document is eight pages is statistically impossible.
  If you agree this document is eight pages long, you think that the 
income tax forms you fill out only require reading two pages of 
material. That is exactly the same thing. When you fill out your income 
tax form, there are two pertinent pages to fill out, but there is a 
little manual that comes with them. If you don't pay attention to that 
manual, you will mess up your taxes. You will be fined. Maybe you will 
be thrown in jail. So you can't just look at the two pages, even if 
they are the only ones you fill out.
  So let's not argue about 8 pages, 20 pages, 400 pages, 600 pages, 800 
pages. Ask the small businessman how much he wants to read, and then 
take a look at how much he is going to have to read.
  Now, you and I can look through this, or we can have our staffs look 
through it, and decide what we think is pertinent. I tell you, the 
small businessman out there doesn't have that luxury. He can't say, 
``Somebody just show me the couple of paragraphs that affect my 
business.'' He can't do that because this affects his business--this 
and eight more manuals, only seven of which are available at a cost of 
  That is a lot of work for a small businessman. Trim it? Why didn't 
OSHA trim it. California has a one-page ergonomics rule. Why not OSHA?
  Why is this rule bad? This rule was written for the people who are 
bad to the bone. You and I both know that in any profession, in any 
business, and even with groups of employees, there are going to be 
about 5 percent of the people who are ethically challenged. Five 
percent look for ways not to do exactly what they ought to do. That is 
both the businessmen and the employees. Out of that 5 percent, you will 
find that there are about 3 percent--this is included in that 5 
percent--the reason they are ethically challenged is that they don't 
care. No matter what you put in their manual, they don't care; they are 
going to do business as usual. Out of that 3 percent, there is about 
one-tenth of a percent of people who are bad to the bone. That is on 
both sides. That isn't just businessmen or employees. It might even be 
a smaller number than that.
  This rule is written punishing 99.9 percent of the people in this 
country--businesses and employees--to take care of one-tenth of 1 
percent of the people who are bad to the bone. That is not the way we 
are supposed to do these rules. That isn't the right way to do it.
  We have a little conflict in some of our laws. One of the conflicts 
we have is that it is difficult to talk to the worker. You will hear 
examples throughout the day of terrible things being done to workers. I 
know of some of them. I have heard the speeches before on a lot of 
them. I have even looked into some of them. I have talked to some of 
these workers. Do you know we have a law that prohibits management from 
talking to the employee about how his job could be more ergonomically 
sound, unless he is in a union?
  Now, there is a little catch there. Actually, the employer still 
doesn't get to talk to the worker who is doing the job because he is 
represented. It is the representative that they have to talk to. So 
they don't get to listen to a worker who is doing the job. I listen to 
them in Wyoming almost every weekend--they know how this job ought to 
be done. And they have some of the simplest solutions. But they are not 
able to talk to employers about it because of the National Labor 
Relations Act. But this rule doesn't incorporate the solutions for the 
kinds of problems that you are going to hear today in a way that the 
small businessman can handle them.
  Last July we had this debate and we passed an amendment, in a 
bipartisan way, that was avoided by the administration, pressed by the 
agency, and circumvented by the agency so this could be put into place. 
I will have some more words about how that was achieved.
  I wish to make it perfectly clear that this vote is not about whether 
we should have ergonomics protection. It isn't about that. Let me 
repeat that. This vote is not about whether we should have ergonomics 
protection. Of course we should. Of course we need it.
  Have each of you worked in your offices to handle some of the 
ergonomics problems there? I have. It is a necessity right where we 
work. Does this rule work for us? No. And we have lots of staff. It is 
just the other people, just the small businessmen who have to memorize 
the manual themselves.

  My colleagues and I strongly believe in protecting the workers, 
protecting the employees against musculoskeletal injuries--there is one 
of those $50 words from OSHA. We are not trying to kill ergonomics 
protection. In fact, you heard my colleague from Vermont earlier say 
that the Congressional Review Act clearly permits OSHA to issue another 
ergonomics rule, and you have heard the words of the Secretary of Labor 
who said she will continue to look at this issue and consider all the 
best options for protecting worker safety, including a new rulemaking.
  I look forward to engaging in that process with Secretary Chao. As 
chairman of the subcommittee dealing with work safety, I feel a special 
responsibility to help employers protect American workers. I have no 
interest in killing the ergonomics protection, and I would not vote to 
do that. In fact, one of the highlights of last weekend was my meeting 
with the Service Employees International Union in Wyoming and receiving 
a certificate from them, on a national basis, for the work that I did 
on safety with needle sticks--something that was extremely important in 
this country, something that had been worked on for at least a decade.
  Senator Kennedy and I, and Senator Jeffords, and others, talked about 
some reasonable improvements that could be made. We got together on a 
bill. We put it together as a bill--not as a rulemaking by a bunch of 
unelected bureaucrats, not something as long as this rule. We agreed on 
it. Do you know what happened. It passed both bodies by unanimous 
consent. It went to the President and, of course, the President signed 
  After years of working on it, we sat down and worked it out. I am 
saying that we can work out ergonomics legislation so it will be 
beneficial to everyone, particularly the ones doing the work. That is 
how we are supposed to go about doing things, not through the process I 
am going to describe to you that OSHA went through and wound up with 
this huge rule.
  But we are not voting on the value of ergonomics protection today; we 
are voting on one thing, and one thing only, and that is this Clinton 
ergonomics rule. This rule cannot be allowed to stand. If this were 
allowed to stand, it would not be of benefit to people who are working. 
It was issued as a last political hurrah for the former administration. 
It is the product of a rushed and flawed rulemaking, and it will not 
protect workers.
  The power for OSHA to write this rule did not materialize out of thin 
air. We in Congress did give that authority to OSHA, and it is time for 
us to take some responsibility for what OSHA has done this time. The 
Congressional Review Act gives us special procedures to do just that, 
and I am proud to be a part of today's historic innovation of the act.
  I thank my colleague, Senator Nickles, for passing the bipartisan 
Congressional Review Act, along with Senator Reid, and for his hard 
work on the ergonomics issue. I also thank my colleagues, Senator Bond, 
Senator Hutchinson, and Senator Thompson, for their hard work on this 
  This ergonomics rule is such an overbroad, overblown bureaucratic 
mess that I cannot imagine any action more in need of being taken than 
congressional intervention.

[[Page S1839]]

  I am sure by the time we have had our 10 hours of debate, this rule 
will be indefensible.
  Many of my Democrat colleagues are criticizing the effort to overturn 
the ergonomics rule. I wonder if any have actually read this gorilla of 
a rule. Have they tried to understand it? Have they tried to implement 
it in their offices? Have they asked the small business people in their 
States whether they will be able to implement it? Of course they 
haven't. If they had, there is no possible way they would want this 
rule to remain in effect.
  Let me explain specifically why Congress must act to revoke the 
ergonomics rule. This rule violates sound principles of State and 
Federal law and, more importantly, common sense. I will talk more about 
that later, as will my colleagues.
  First, I will talk about how we got here and then we will better 
understand why this rule is so bad and needs to go. Simply put, OSHA 
rushed through the rulemaking process. Worse yet, they stacked the 
evidentiary evidence. They ignored criticisms--worse than that, they 
paid people to rip the criticisms apart. They changed the rules in the 
middle of the game.
  Is it any wonder this flawed process produced a flawed rule? Use 
spoiled milk, you get a spoiled milkshake. Let's look at some examples. 
Since 1988, the average time OSHA has spent per rule has been 4 years. 
Yet the ergonomics regulation was finalized in under 1 year by OSHA 
despite the fact it generated more public comment than any other prior 
OSHA rule. Why the rush? The answer is clear: The history books were 
closing on the Clinton Presidency so OSHA rushed to publish its final 
rule on one of the last possible days before the new administration to 
ensure that the new administration would have no recourse. The rule was 
published on November 16, put into effect on January 16. Is it any 
coincidence that the inauguration was January 20? That is by 
constitutional law. Everybody knew when the inauguration would be, when 
the opportunity would come for a new administration to take a look at 
what has happened. This has been a rush. No, they rushed forward in 
spite of the fact that both the Senate and the House voted to impose a 
1-year delay on the rulemaking in a bipartisan way, in a civil way. 
Responsible rulemaking or political posturing? What was the agency 
doing and thinking?
  My Democrat colleagues love to say this rulemaking has been a 10-year 
process started by Republican Elizabeth Dole. Let's be perfectly clear. 
No matter how long an issue is out there, the public has no way of 
knowing how OSHA will handle it, what OSHA will require, what OSHA is 
going to do, until OSHA actually publishes a proposed rule. That is the 
beginning of the rule debate. We have all known there have been 
ergonomics problems--ergonomics problems at work, at home, ergonomics 
problems with our recreation. Something needs to be done in all of 
those areas to eliminate the pain and suffering people go through. We 
have all recognized that.
  When did OSHA actually do something? They did it a little less than a 
year before the final rule. In the case of ergonomics, OSHA let us in 
on their plan a mere 358 days before they made it the law of the land, 
one-quarter of the time they typically take.
  Let's break it down even further. After the public comment period 
closed on August 10, 2000, OSHA received over 7,000 comments with 800 
volumes of exhibits comprised of over 19,000 separate documents, each 
ranging in size up to 700 pages. Say the average size of these 
documents is just 100 pages; that comes to 1.9 million pages of 
material. That is pretty close to 2 million pages. But there were only 
94 days between the end of the public comment period and the date of 
the OSHA-published rue.

  How can the American people possibly have confidence that OSHA truly 
read, understood, analyzed, correlated, and responded to the 2 million 
pages of material in 94 days? That is 20,000 pages a day, steady, 
consolidated. Even if they don't consider it--which we know they 
didn't--it takes a long time to get through 2 million pages of work. 
Maybe that is where they saved time because there isn't a single bit of 
evidence that a single concern made it to the final rule. In fact, the 
rule got worse. They didn't listen; they made it worse.
  Maybe OSHA didn't think it needed to pay any attention to these 
comments because it could get all the information it wanted from its 
hired guns. Yes, hired guns. At a most conservative estimate, OSHA paid 
over 70 contractors a total of $1.75 million to help it with ergonomics 
rulemaking. In particular, OSHA paid some 20 contractors $10,000 each 
to testify on the proposed rule. They not only testified on it; they 
had their testimony edited by the Department. Does that show concern 
for the problems of America? They brought them in for special sessions 
so they would be prepared for the same kind of atmosphere they would be 
in when they were presenting their testimony. They practiced these 
people, which also made sure the testimony they were giving was the 
testimony OSHA wanted given.
  Then--and this is the worst part of it all--they paid those witnesses 
to tear apart the testimony of the other folks who were testifying, at 
their own expense.
  Not being paid $10,000 by their government, coming to Washington 
wanting to testify on a rule, or sending their comments to Washington 
expecting their comments to be read and considered: not much to ask of 
a citizen, is it?
  What does our government do? They pay contractors to rip apart the 
testimony. These may be the same contractors who helped compile these 2 
million pages of documents to see if there was anything worth putting 
into the rule. That is not how our government ought to work. OSHA 
assisted the contractors with preparation of their testimony; they made 
suggestions to them about what they should say; they held practice 
sessions to prepare them.
  Regardless of whether these tactics actually violate any law, it 
clearly paints OSHA as a zealous advocate, not an impartial 
decisionmaker. That is what we expect of our government: impartial 
decisions--not rabid, zealous advocates.
  OSHA should be weighing all of the evidence and making the best 
decision for workplace safety, not blindly defending its own position 
at all costs--literally all costs, your costs and my costs, paying 
people to present the testimony.
  How can the American people have any confidence that the outcome of 
this rulemaking was fair and unbiased? Look at the evidence. They 
  This perception is also strengthened by the fact that OSHA completely 
ignored the many criticisms of the proposed rule and actually made it 
worse. For example, I held two hearings on OSHA's proposed rule last 
year. Yesterday, I brought in a volume that included that, with lots of 
testimony, lots of information, lots of letters.
  During the first hearing, we examined a provision that requires 
employers to compensate certain injured employees at 90 percent to 100 
percent of their salary. OSHA calls this requirement a ``work 
restriction protection,'' or WRP. But this provision sounds an awful 
lot like Federal workers compensation, doesn't it?
  At the hearing, we heard testimony from a State workers compensation 
administrator and two experts in insurance and workers compensation. We 
also received written testimony from a large group of insurance 
companies. All of this testimony unequivocally showed that this 
provision will wreak havoc with the State workers compensation systems.
  All 50 States have intricate workers compensation systems that strike 
a delicate balance between the employer and the employee. When I was in 
the State legislature in Wyoming, that took up a good deal of the time 
we spent in the Labor Committee, working on all of the history of 
workers comp. It is decades old, and there are thousands of 
administrators who have worked on this for years. OSHA doesn't have 
anybody who has worked on it for years. OSHA doesn't have anything in 
place to take care of the kinds of things that are going to happen when 
this rule starts generating workers comp payments.
  All 50 States do have intricate workers compensation systems, and 
they strike a delicate balance. Each party gives up certain rights in 
exchange for certain benefits. An employer gives up his ability to 
argue that a workplace accident was not its fault in exchange

[[Page S1840]]

for a promise that the employee will not pursue other remedies against 
  Each State has reached its own balance through years of experience, 
trial and error. Significantly, Congress has never taken this autonomy 
away from the States by mandating Federal workers compensation 
requirements before. The ergonomics rule destroys the State's balance 
and completely overrides the State's rights to make an independent 
determination about what constitutes a work-related injury and what 
level of compensation injured workers should receive.
  OSHA doesn't have the mechanisms or the manpower to decide the 
numerous disputes that will inevitably arise because of the WRP 
provision. All of a sudden, OSHA will have to decide disputes over the 
existence of medical conditions, the causation, and the right to 
compensation. What is going to happen to workplace safety and health 
while OSHA is busy being a workers compensation administration? Do you 
think they are going to need some additional help on that? You bet they 
  In addition, under WRP, employers must pay immediately and employees 
can keep both the WRP payment and the workers compensation payment 
unless the employer sues the employee to recoup the double payment. Do 
you think the employee will have the money to pay back the double 
  What we mentioned in committee, and I have mentioned this personally 
to the people who were working on this rule, that it was set up so an 
employee could be paid twice for being injured--I ask you, if you can 
make more money by not showing up for work than you can by showing up 
for work, would your boss expect you to be there? Even for the best 
intentioned person, this is a great temptation. And what we are hearing 
from the businessmen across this country. How do we administer this? 
How do we make sure we are not doing double payments to employees? How 
do we make sure that our workforce isn't being paid not to work? We 
want to do what is right, but we do need workers.
  Employees will be making more money by staying home than coming to 
work, and without any medical diagnosis.

  The rule is triggered with no medical diagnosis. Worse yet, under the 
WRP, the employer cannot get information from the doctor about how the 
accident happened? He can't get advice from the doctor who actually 
looked at the patient, to see how to solve the problem. That is illegal 
under the rule. If we really want to solve the problem for the person, 
why can't they talk to each other under this rule? Talking to people is 
the way to get the solution, and OSHA prohibit it because they think 
all those employers out there are bad to the bone. They wrote this rule 
for the one-tenth of 1 percent of the people in this country who will 
not be affected by the rule one bit.
  It is no surprise that this WRP provision was vigorously opposed by 
the Western Governors' Association, the Tennessee Legislature, the New 
York Department of Labor, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, and 
many others. All these complaints are on top of the fact that WRPs 
violate the OSH Act, a little problem OSHA chose to ignore.
  Thirty years ago when Congress wrote the Occupational Safety and 
Health Act, it made an explicit statement about OSHA and workers 
compensation. I will quote the act.

       . . . supersede or in any manner affect any workmen's 
     compensation law or to enlarge or diminish or affect in any 
     other manner the common law or statutory rights, duties, or 
     liabilities of employers and employees under any law with 
     respect to injuries, diseases, or death of employees arising 
     out of, or in the course of, employment.

  This is almost as if to say: What part of ``no'' don't you 
understand? ``Nothing in this chapter shall be construed''--``in any 
other manner''--there are so many words in here that say you can't do 
workers comp.
  You will hear the other side mention a couple of areas where there 
have been some WRP payments. You will find that those are instances 
where they can test for substances that can be isolated at the 
workplace, where there was virtually no other possibility of them 
getting the contamination somewhere else. They are in the cotton dust 
and the lead provision. These are very special cases where the exposure 
can only happen at those workplaces.
  That is not like this one, where the accident can happen--it happens 
over a period of time; it happens as a result of an accumulated effect, 
and, according to the National Academy of Sciences study, it is even 
based on attitude at the moment. I would like to see people measure 
that one.
  Twice the provision uses the broad phrase ``shall not affect in any 
manner'' to describe what OSHA should not do to workers compensation. 
As someone with the privilege of being one of the country's lawmakers, 
it is hard for me to imagine how Congress could have drafted a broader 
or more explicit prohibition of OSHA's interference with State workers 
  But did OSHA heed these numerous complaints and the potential 
illegality and the constant mention that has been made of it during the 
entire process, in comment letters, in hearings, and remove the rule? 
No, it did not. They are all right here. It is on page 6885-4--I love 
the numbering of the Federal documents--of the final rule.
  In our second hearing, we examined the devastating effect the rule 
would have on patients and facilities dependent upon Medicaid and 
Medicare. Testimony at that hearing demonstrated that the rule forces 
these facilities to violate the law and could force them out of 
business. In 1987, Congress passed the Nursing Home Act, recognizing 
the importance of human dignity--the importance of patient dignity--the 
importance of permitting patients to choose how they are moved and how 
they receive certain types of care.
  This act and corresponding regulations mandate this important freedom 
of choice for patients. The ergonomics rule, on the other hand, imposes 
many requirements on all health care facilities and providers 
concerning patient care and movement. Thus, these facilities and 
providers may be forced to choose between violating the ergonomics rule 
or violating both the Nursing Home Act and patient dignity. We asked 
them to come up with some kind of solution for that problem in the 
  Moreover, OSHA's rule forces impossible choices about resource 
allocation between patient care versus employee care. The only way for 
businesses to absorb the cost of this rule is to pass the cost along to 
consumers. However, some consumers are patients dependent on Medicaid 
and Medicare--very important people we cannot leave out. The Federal 
Government sets an absolute cap on what these individuals can pay for 
medical services. Thus, the facilities that provide care for these 
patients simply cannot charge a higher cost. They have to absorb the 
cost of the rule.
  Simply put, these facilities and providers are unable to absorb the 
cost of the ergonomics rule. And there is no question these facilities 
will face a cost. OSHA's own estimate of the cost of compliance in the 
first year will total $526 million for nursing and personal care 
facilities and residential care. The industry is already having 
trouble. The industry estimates that the per-facility cost for a 
typical nursing home will be $60,000.
  But my issue with this rule is not that it will cost these facilities 
so much. It is that it will cost elderly and poor patients access to 
quality care. The new expenses this rule will add simply cannot be 
passed on to the patients who depend on this program, and a cut in 
service will be the only option. We have already seen what is 
happening, particularly with rural medical practice costs of providing 
the treatments that are limited. They are going out of business in my 
  Did OSHA do anything to address this problem? Did it resolve the 
legal conflict? Did it explain how these facilities can comply without 
sacrificing quality of care and quantity of care? No. In fact, OSHA's 
own estimate of the cost of compliance with the final rule actually 
increased over the proposed rule. And they stuck in a couple more 
things. OSHA actually made this situation worse rather than listening 
to these vulnerable facilities.
  This really disappoints me.
  After the hearings were over, I met with the former Assistant 
Secretary for OSHA and talked to him about my concerns. Mr. Ballinger 
made efforts in North Carolina in ergonomics and saw

[[Page S1841]]

a reasonable approach to it, and even recommended him to be the 
Assistant Secretary for OSHA. I was there at the nomination process and 
the confirmation hearing. I asked questions about this. I thought we 
had a person who was reasonable and who would listen. Perhaps he did. 
Perhaps the bureaucracy took control of him.
  But I met with him after we had the hearings and before the rule went 
into effect. I pleaded with him to solve the problems created by the 
proposed rule. And he said he would make significant changes. But it 
was clear that he thought OSHA was an advocate for their original 
version rather than an impartial decisionmaker weighing all the 
evidence fairly.
  Now that I have seen the final rule, it is clear that OSHA saw blind 
advocacy as more important than its duty to craft the best possible 
rule. I see no indication that he took my subcommittee's work or any of 
the public comments to heart.
  Perhaps more disturbing than OSHA's disregard for public comment is 
its denial of public opportunity to accept only certain elements of the 
final rule--another drastic attack on the American people. OSHA made 
significant substantial changes to the final rule without giving the 
public an opportunity to comment on them.
  What this could lead to if we don't reverse the rule today is the 
agency saying: Let's see. The easiest way to do this would be to leave 
things out of the proposal and then hold the hearings and take the 
testimony. And, when we are finished, we will do the final rule the way 
we want to.

  That is what OSHA did. The starting point wasn't so popular and it 
drew significant adverse comment. But they didn't address it. They just 
went on to another publication--one that was more stringent than with 
what they started.
  The worst of these changes is OSHA's addition of eight new job hazard 
analysis tools.
  I can almost see your eyes starting to glaze over. If I started to 
read all of these additional pages to you, they would. But remember 
that the small businessman has to take these into consideration. The 
guy out there who doesn't have the specialized staff that OSHA has is 
going to have to know these because they have included them in the 
  OSHA's rule says to employers: If you want to be assured of avoiding 
fines and penalties, you have to reduce the ergonomic hazards in your 
workplace below the level specified in one of eight tools contained in 
mandatory appendix D-1.
  Doesn't that get you excited? The tool you use is dependent on the 
type of work your business performs. But you have to figure out which 
one for yourself.
  Here are a couple of them.
  We have the ACGIH hand-arm vibration--actually sharing a summary with 
the small businessmen. It may be some help to them but not much.
  GM-UAW risk factor checklist: Sounds like the kind of study you would 
want to read to keep your mind active.
  The push-pull hazard table, and the rapid upper limb assessment--do 
those sound a little difficult? Yes; they are. They were written by 
ergonomists for ergonomists. None of them were written for small 
businessmen. But the small businessman still has to understand them.
  These tools are actually eight separate documents that were not 
written by OSHA, and they were not mandated in the proposed rule--only 
the final rule. No member of the scientific community and none of the 
regulated public had an opportunity to comment on whether mandating 
compliance with these tools is a good idea.
  Adding insult to injure, as far as I can tell, OSHA does not provide 
these documents. Instead, OSHA tells employers: You are on your own. Go 
ask the publishers, the trade association, and the private companies 
that wrote these tools to give them to you. So we gave it a shot.
  Let me tell you it wasn't easy. It took three of my staff several 
days, and there was still one document they were not able to obtain at 
all. Remember, these weren't free.
  As for the rest of them, one of the documents is 164 pages long. That 
is in addition to the rule. It all depends on how thick the paper is. 
The Government didn't use good paper. That probably saved us a little 
bit of money. Not doing the rule would save us a lot more.
  So let's see what the local bakery has to comply with. I am going to 
read from The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists 
Hand/Arm (Segmental) Vibration Threshold Limit Value (or TLV). This is 
straight from the range of pages cited by OSHA in the mandatory 

       For each direction being measured, linear integration 
     should be employed for vibrations that are of extremely short 
     duration or vary substantially in time. If the total daily 
     vibration exposure in a given direction is composed of 
     several exposures at different rms accelerations, then the 
     equivalent, frequency-weighted component acceleration in that 
     direction should be determined in accordance with the 
     following equation.

  As for the rest of them: One of these documents is one hundred sixty-
four pages long. For at least five others, there are separate monetary 
charges--that's right, businesses have to pay to be able to read these 
federally mandated documents. And several of these documents are 
articles in scientific journals written for ergonomists and engineers. 
But the corner convenience store, local newspaper and your favorite 
bakery must comply with them all the same.
  That is something we deal with on the floor of the Senate every 
single day, isn't it? I mean, why wouldn't our small businessmen be 
able to take this simple--simple?--calculus formula and figure out if 
their employees were getting too much vibration on the job?
  It would be a lot simpler if they asked the employees if they were 
having vibration problems. But the law makes that difficult.
  You cannot talk to the guy with the problem and say: Are the 
vibrations bothering you? What can we do to eliminate some of the 
vibrations? No. Instead, we have this thing about RMS accelerations, 
with equivalent, frequency-weighted component acceleration, determined 
in conjunction with this very simple formula.
  Now, I am sure everybody in Congress is going to be proud to go to 
their baker and say: We know you run some equipment that has 
vibrations. I want to help you understand this formula. Yes. It is not 
going to happen. When your baker sees this thing, I will tell you what 
he will think you ought to do with this rule. There really ought not to 
be anybody who votes for this rule, not the way it has been messed up 
through a process that ought to be helping people.
  Do you see any evidence there was any attempt to help people? All we 
built in was cost. We did not build in care. We did not take care of 
the people of America. We did not save them from their ergonomics 
problems. We put so much garbage out there that the businessman is 
simply not going to be able to comply.
  This isn't the kind of thing any of us ever anticipated we would be 
thrusting on the small businessmen of this country. In fact, it isn't 
even what we thought we would be thrusting on the workers of this 
country. Do you know what is going to happen in a bunch of businesses 
in this country. Instead of asking that employee what could be done, 
instead of asking him how to solve the problem, they are going to hire 
somebody who will automate the plant. People will lose their jobs. Yes, 
we may hire somebody to run the automation, but that is not going to 
take care of jobs in this country, the jobs of people who work hard 
every day and know what they are doing and know the simple ways that 
the process could be improved.
  I tell you, not one of them is going to read this; not one of them 
needs to read this. You do not need to read this to solve the problems 
in the workplace. There are none of us who do not want to see the 
ergonomics problems reduced and eliminated. I tell you, business has 
been doing that. Yes, according to OSHA, over the last 5 years business 
has reduced the number of ergonomics accidents by 22 percent. The 
Bureau of Labor Statistics gives business a lot more credit than OSHA 
for these numbers.
  What would improve ergonomics in this country? I tell you, if we had 
the same number of people working with businesses suggesting things 
that would help the people in that business, instead of spending their 
time writing

[[Page S1842]]

this kind of stuff, we would have a lot more of the problems solved.
  I am willing to work on coming up with an ergonomics rule that will 
work to reduce injuries. I am not interested in seeing an ergonomics 
rule that is for the benefit of the jobs of bureaucrats. That is not 
going to help us.
  I ask you, how in the world is any small business or any businessman, 
for that matter, supposed to figure out all this stuff? They can't. 
Businesses simply will not be able to comply with the requirements. But 
OSHA has not heard their stories because it deprived the American 
people of the opportunity to comment on the requirements.
  Rest assured, these problems are just the tip of the iceberg. You 
will be hearing about more flaws from my colleagues in the coming 
hours. But if even one of these issues that I have raised troubles 
you--and I think they should all trouble you deeply--then you must 
recognize the desperate need for congressional intervention. That is 
why a bipartisan act years ago set up this process, so that Congress 
could jerk an agency back to reality that has not been paying 
attention. There is a desperate need for congressional intervention.

  I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this resolution. Let's show 
the country that although Congress delegated rulemaking authority to 
OSHA, we have not abdicated our responsibility to the American people. 
I will watch out for the American people. I know my colleagues will, 
  Mr. President, I reserve the remainder of my time and yield the 
  Mr. WELLSTONE addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, first of all, let me say to my 
colleague from Wyoming--he chairs the committee with jurisdiction over 
workplace safety, and I am the ranking minority member--I appreciate 
him as a Senator. There is a different version of those hearings and a 
different version about what is the right thing for us to do. I would 
like to speak to that.
  Each year, there are 1.8 million workers who suffer from ergonomics 
disorders. Mr. President, 600,000 men and women have injuries so severe 
they are forced to take off work. Obviously, there is a problem. If it 
is your son or your daughter or your brother or your sister or your 
husband or your wife, it is very personal to you.
  I think this is a class issue. I said it yesterday on the floor of 
the Senate--and I have to say it again--I think precious few Senators 
really understand what these statistics mean in personal terms because, 
frankly, we are talking about a part of the population that is not well 
represented in the Congress, not well represented in the Senate. We are 
talking about working-class people. I do not think most Senators have 
loved ones who are doing this work, whether it is blue-collar work or 
white-collar work.
  As I say, 1.8 million workers every year suffer from work-related 
ergonomics disorders--many of them women. I must say, I think some of 
the discussion on the floor trivializes these injuries, trivializes 
this pain, and trivializes the need for protection for people.
  I do not know how many times I have heard from my colleagues that, of 
course, there should be ergonomics protection, that, of course, we 
should do something--but it is never this rule; it is never that rule; 
it is never the next rule. Frankly, there are interests that for 10 
years have done everything they could to oppose any kind of rule 
providing people at the workplace with this protection. That is what 
this resolution is about. That is what this debate is about.
  Keta Ortiz is a sewing machine operator in New York City. She was 52 
when her whole life came crashing down. She ended up with cramps in her 
hands so severe that when she woke up, they were frozen like claws. She 
had to soak her hands in hot water just to be able to move her fingers. 
This went on for 5 years. Terrified of losing her job, she suffered 
agony beyond measure, beyond any measure most Senators know. Finally, 
she had to give up her job. It took 2 years for her to get her first 
workers comp check. She lost hers and her family's health insurance, 
and she now tries to get by on $120 a week in workers comp payments.
  Shirley Mack from Spring Lake, NC, is a single parent with four 
children. Let's talk about people. You can put charts up, and you can 
make fun of rules, and you can trivialize what this is all about, but 
let's talk about people's lives.
  Shirley Mack has worked since she was 5 and tried very hard to stay 
off public assistance. Her job was splitting chicken breasts in a 
poultry plant, working 8 or 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. I doubt 
whether very many Senators have done that. I have not. Maybe some have, 
not too many, though.
  I am on safe ground, aren't I, colleagues, in saying that not too 
many Senators have ever done this kind of work? She says she was one of 
the faster workers but then her hands started hurting and going numb. 
To avoid losing her job, she continued working, but then her hand 
stopped working. Her finger locked. Her hand grew numb and cold, and 
her arm stopped working. After a few days in the plant of not being 
able to work, she was fired.

  I quote from her:

       Now I go to bed in pain and I wake up with pain. It hurts 
     to hold my new grandson. I can't fix a big meal like I used 
     to or hang clothes or do yard work at all. I can't go to the 
     grocery store by myself anymore because I can't push the 
     cart. I can only really use my left hand so lots of things 
     like doing my hair and driving take longer and really hurt. . 
     . . I didn't want to go on assistance, but I am now disabled. 
     This carpal tunnel syndrome is very real.

  Some of us are being very generous with the suffering of others. That 
is what this rule was all about--lessening the suffering of a whole lot 
of people in the workforce of the United States of America. Now with 
this resolution, we are going to wipe out that rule, wipe out that 
  It is interesting: We are in this intense debate--or will be soon--on 
the education bill regarding accountability for our schools, but when 
it comes to worker safety, all of a sudden accountability and standards 
go out the window.
  My colleagues have been holding up the Federal Register. They have 
been talking about the rule. The rule is eight pages. The rule is eight 
pages. There is background; there is context; there are reasons for 
doing it. This is the rule, eight pages. This whole book is not the 
rule; it is a lot of good background information on the rule.
  I will discuss what this rule is about, 8 pages, 10 years in the 
making, starting with Elizabeth Dole, and now in 10 hours we are going 
to overturn it. By the way, for all my colleagues who say they are 
committed to doing something, they will do something, time is not 
neutral for these workers. These injuries are debilitating. It is a 
life of hell. It is a life of pain. Now in 10 hours we are going to 
overturn this rule.
  These standards, eight pages of a rule, represent a sound, 
reasonable, sensible approach. What does the rule basically say? After 
10 years of diligent work, initiated by Elizabeth Dole when she was 
Secretary of Labor, right up to now, what do we have? We have state-of-
the-art, flexible, commonsense rules for employers, helping them to 
deal with this vexing problem of ergonomic disorders.
  The requirements are not complicated: One, the standard simply calls 
for employers to provide employees with basic information about 
ergonomic disorders so that if you are working and you are experiencing 
these symptoms, you know what is happening to you before it is too 
late. Then the employer need not do anything more, that is it, unless a 
worker or an employee reports a disorder or a symptom which is a sign 
of the disorder. The worker says: I can barely move my wrist; my 
fingers are swelling; I am in pain. Then there is a problem.
  First the employer lets the workers know, gives them information so 
people can understand what might be happening to them. That is a 
terrible idea?
  Then if the employee should come to the employer and say, I have a 
problem, it is up to the employer to determine whether or not what has 
been reported is an ergonomic incident. There are clear criteria laid 
out. If that threshold is reached, then the employer is obliged to work 
with his or her employees to identify and analyze the hazards and 
develop a program to deal with those hazards.

  We would think, from hearing some of the Senators on the floor of the 
Senate, that OSHA has done a terrible

[[Page S1843]]

thing by promulgating a rule, based on 10 years of work, to provide 
some protection for well over a million and a half workers every year 
who face these disabling injuries, 600,000 of whom are not even able to 
work part of the time because of these injuries.
  Are these rigid, onerous, arbitrary rules? No, they are not. A lot of 
smart businesspeople are already utilizing these standards. Tom Albin, 
who is an ergonomist at 3M in St. Paul, MN, had this to say about what 
3M does in my State:

       Our experience has shown that incorporating good ergonomics 
     into our manufacturing and administrative processes can be 
     effective in reducing the number and severity of work-related 
     musculoskeletal disorders, which not only benefits our 
     employee, but also makes good business sense.

  Tom Albin is right; it is good business sense.

       3M's evolving ergonomics process has been effective at 
     reducing the impact of these disorders on our employees and 
     our business. From 1993 to 1997 we have experienced a 50 
     percent reduction in ergonomics-related OSHA recordables and 
     70 percent reduction in ergonomics-related lost time OSHA 

  In other words, paying attention to ergonomics makes good business 
sense. It is cost effective. Estimates are that the $4.5 billion 
annually it will take to implement these standards will result in $9.1 
billion annually of savings which are recouped from the lost 
productivity, lost tax payments, administrative costs, and workers 
comp. You do the prevention. We have this rule. You have this standard. 
You prevent injuries. You have more productivity. Workers are not 
absent from work, and you have fewer workers comp claims. We have also 
lived to our values: We have provided protection for hard-working 
  When my colleagues come to the floor and talk about this standard as 
if it is arbitrary and capricious, they leave out a little bit of the 
history of this. The fact is, many companies are saying, yes, we need 
to do this. Good businesspeople are saying, yes, we need to do this. It 
is preventative, and it saves money.
  The results are not surprising. The National Academy of Sciences and 
the Institute of Medicine report, which was requested by industry 
groups and opponents of these standards--I haven't heard any discussion 
about this--finds scientific support that, one, exposure to ergonomic 
hazards in the workplace causes ergonomic disorders; and, two, these 
injuries can be prevented.
  This is the report. If I were to list--and I don't have time because 
other colleagues will speak--the panel composition, it extends from 
internal medicine to nursing to physiology to biomechanics to human 
factors engineering, a most distinguished panel of men and women. The 
National Academy of Sciences found a strong and persistent pattern, 
both on the basis of epidemiological studies and biomechanical studies, 
that indeed there was a huge problem in the workplace. Repetitive 
stress injuries are for real. People are disabled.
  They also found that in fact if we want, we can take action to reduce 
this pain and agony. We could change the design of tools and work 
stations, rotate jobs, lift tables, have vibration-dampening seating 
devices. There are a whole set of ergonomic principles which can be 
used to reduce exposure to risk factors and, as a result, mean less 
pain for many women and men in the workforce.
  I have not heard my colleagues talk about this study. I know 
sometimes facts are stubborn things. I know sometimes we don't want to 
know what we don't want to know. The NAS report goes on to affirm the 
basic elements of the OSHA standard: management, leadership, employee 
participation, job hazard analysis and control, training, and medical 
management. So my second point is that the case for these standards is 
strong and unassailable.

  My last point has to do with the rush to judgment that we are 
witnessing today: Ten years of work, countless studies, untold time and 
effort overturned after 10 hours of debate. This resolution of 
disapproval wasn't sent to committee, and this, despite the fact that 
we have a new study hundreds of pages long, commissioned by the 
opponents of this rule that supports the essential elements of what 
OSHA ordered. This is the problem my colleagues have. They are doing 
the bidding of some very greedy folks who say they don't want to have 
to spend any more money.
  How generous we are with the suffering of others. So we had 10 years 
of study and the opponents wanted the National Academy of Sciences to 
give us their best judgment. Well, they ended up supporting basically 
the rules that OSHA ordered, which was what the opponents were opposed 
to. So now Senators don't have the study; they don't have the research; 
they don't have the evidence. But I will tell you what they do have. 
This is what they do have. They could come to the floor of the Senate. 
The administration could do the same thing. The administration could 
stay OSHA's rule. The administration could reopen the rulemaking 
process, call for further studies; they could let the court processes 
  Instead, this effort is to kill the rule. This is scorched earth 
policy to prevent OSHA from ever issuing a rule in ``substantially the 
same form, unless specifically authorized by a subsequent act of the 
Congress.'' That is what this is all about.
  Let me be clear about this. My colleagues are not interested in 
making any kind of accommodation. That is not what this is about. They 
are not interested in saying, yes, there are some parts in this rule we 
don't like; let's see if we can fix them. What they want to do is avoid 
accountability for worker safety. That is what this is all about--that 
we will avoid accountability. That is what is so egregious. That is 
what is so egregious about what is happening.
  I finish this way. This is one interesting and telling week for--
sometimes you speak on the floor of the Senate and you somehow hope you 
get the attention of people, and you almost hope people listen and you 
can connect with the people in the country to somehow follow debate, or 
they hear one thing you say.
  I certainly wish to say this: For working people, for people who are 
not the heavy hitters, not the big players, not the investors, don't 
have all of the economic clout, don't lobby here every day in 
Washington, who are doing the work, who are faced with these kinds of 
injuries and this kind of pain, these kinds of disabilities, men and 
women--but probably the majority are women--this is not a good week for 
them because this resolution overturns 10 years of hard, diligent work 
to finally write a rule that will give working men and women some 
protection in the workplace. And then if you can't work because you are 
disabled by this injury--remember, a lot of people have no other 
choice. A lot of people work at these jobs because they have no other 
choice. They don't work at these jobs for the fun of it. We have 
options. We can go to other work. They don't.
  And then what we are going to do, starting tomorrow, assuming this 
resolution passes, is we are also going to say to the same people, now 
we have overturned the rule, now we have moved away from protection--
although Senators are saying, of course, we are concerned. Your concern 
doesn't mean much because time is not neutral, and for a whole lot of 
folks the injuries are now.

  I keep hearing we are for another rule, another time, another place; 
but every time big economic interests say, oh, no, we can't afford it.
  My colleague from Wyoming, whom I respect, talked about nursing 
homes. I hope that the choice is not between nursing homes or hospitals 
saying, look, in order for us to be able to make it economically--I 
agree they have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to 
reimbursement. We have our health care providers saying the only way 
they can survive economically is for the workforce to work jobs that 
are unsafe and continue to suffer and struggle with disabling injuries. 
That should not be the tradeoff.
  Does anybody wonder why we have a 40-percent turnover in nursing 
homes every year? Part of it is the low wages and part of it is 
outrageous working conditions, taking care of our mothers and fathers 
who built the country on their backs. One would think we would do well 
for parents and grandparents and for the human service workers who take 
care of them. We don't do well for the men and women who take care of 
our parents and our grandparents in nursing homes or in home health 

[[Page S1844]]

when we do not take action to protect them and make sure they are safe.
  I can only say that the supreme irony of this week is that now that 
we take away the protection, if you are disabled and you can no longer 
work, then what we are going to do, starting tomorrow, is pass the 
bankruptcy bill that is going to make it impossible for most people in 
the country to any longer file chapter 7 and rebuild their lives. 
Incredibly harsh. Great for the credit card companies. It doesn't hold 
them accountable for their predatory policies, for pumping these credit 
cards on our children and grandchildren. But, boy, when it comes to 
families that find themselves in terrible economic circumstances 
because of a major medical bill, or because of the loss of a job, or 
because of a divorce, it is going to be practically impossible for 
people to rebuild their lives.
  So I say that working families get the shaft on the floor of the 
Senate this week and next week as well. I say that is a shame. But I 
say that I believe in the intelligence of people, and my guess is that 
citizens in the country will figure this out and they will have a 
pretty good sense of who gets represented well here and who is left 
  I will finish with this sentence. I think, unfortunately, that even 
though I don't believe it is intended, because Senators on the other 
side of this debate are good people--we just disagree--I think the 
effect of this resolution overturning 10 years of work, overturning 
this rule, so important to protecting men and women in the workplace--
the effect is to make many working Americans, men and women, 
expendable. We are making them expendable. We are saying to many 
working class people in the country that you are expendable Americans. 
I am in profound opposition to that statement.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I yield such time as the Senator from 
Tennessee may use.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee is recognized.
  Mr. THOMPSON. Mr. President, I rise in support of the proposition 
that in a democratic republic it is entirely appropriate for elected 
representatives to have some say-so when a bureaucracy produces a rule 
that so greatly affects people's lives.
  As we get into our discussion, we can discuss some of these broad, 
powerful, greedy interests that have been referred to, and we can 
discuss exactly who is affected by this rule and whether or not all 
these people fit that definition that our previous speaker has just 
cast on everyone who comes to us with concern about this rule.
  I rise in support of the resolution of disapproval of OSHA's 
ergonomics regulation. I do not make this decision lightly, but this 
regulation is so unworkable, and the process under which it was issued 
so unsound, I believe I have no choice but to support its disapproval.
  This regulation is a perfect illustration of how political 
gamesmanship can subvert rational policymaking.
  At the outset, I will address some of the claims made about this 
resolution of disapproval. Some assert that this resolution is an 
attack on worker safety. Some may even claim this resolution will bar 
OSHA from addressing the problem of musculoskeletal disorders. The 
truth is, none of us oppose worker safety. Many of us have worked on 
those assembly lines we hear so much about. Some have firsthand 
experience with such matters.
  This resolution prevents an irresponsible and unworkable regulation 
from taking effect. OSHA will still retain the freedom to address the 
problem of musculoskeletal disorders, including through the use of its 
general enforcement authority or by reissuing a reasonable regulation. 
Just because something has been worked on for many years does not mean 
the final product produced at the last minute is a reasonable product. 
Perhaps a lot of good work went into this over the last 10 years, but 
what counts, as we have learned in so many other areas, is what 
happened as it went out the door.
  There is not enough time to discuss all of the flaws and problems 
with this regulation. Many of my colleagues have discussed, and 
undoubtedly will discuss, some of these problems. They will show this 
regulation is the product of an unfair, biased process. The rule will 
unfairly burden businesses all across America, especially small 
businesses. Beyond the private sector burdens, this regulation will 
cost the U.S. Postal Service over $3.4 billion, plus $1.5 billion 
annually thereafter. My colleagues will also show this regulation is 
incomprehensible. This regulation is unworkable. All of this is cause 
for concern. I am particularly concerned about the burden this 
regulation imposes on businesses in Tennessee. But I will not rehash 
all of these arguments in the limited time I have today. Instead, I 
want to focus on how the Clinton ergonomics regulation would harm State 
and local governments and violate principle of federalism.
  As chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, I have the 
responsibility to oversee Federal-State relations. Over the past 
several years, I have struggled with the Clinton administration over 
its federalism policy. This ergonomics regulation is consistent with 
their disrespect for the principle of federalism. By many measures, 
this would be the most burdensome regulation ever imposed by OSHA. It 
would amount to an enormous unfunded mandate. It would preempt 
traditional State and local authority. It could seriously impair State 
and local governments across our country, and certainly in Tennessee. 
It could hit hardest in many small and poor communities where local 
governments struggle to meet the needs of their citizens already.
  Yet until the 11th hour, OSHA neglected to consider how its 
regulation would burden State and local governments and erode their 
traditional authority. OSHA failed to properly consult concerned local 
representatives or to fully explain the potential effect on State and 
local employers.
  After spending years to study the impact of this mega-regulation, 
OSHA neglected to consider the economic impact of its proposed 
regulation on State and local governments. This is not a small 
oversight, to say the least. When OSHA published its proposed 
ergonomics standard in November of 1999, OSHA claimed ``few if any of 
the affected employers are State, local, or tribal governments.'' Then 
OSHA heard the howls of protest and conceded that the regulation 
certainly was going to impose very large and real burdens on these 

  Such small inconvenience did not slow OSHA's rush to ram out this 
regulation in final form in the last days of the Clinton 
administration. OSHA simply cranked out a perfunctory economic analysis 
last May and provided State and local governments a grossly inadequate 
30-day period to comment on OSHA's slipshod economic analysis. OSHA 
also moved its July 7 hearing to consider the economic impact on these 
parties from Washington, DC, to Atlanta, GA, during a time when there 
was a huge convention in Atlanta and rooms were scarce. Many interested 
parties, including representatives of local government, were not even 
able to attend due to the expense and inconvenience involved.
  When it issued the final rule, OSHA admitted there would, indeed, be 
economic burdens for State and local governments--to the tune of about 
$558 million each year. Other estimates are much higher. The Heritage 
Foundation estimated that the cost of the ergonomics proposal on State 
and local government would be about $1.7 billion.
  When OSHA proposed this regulation, it claimed that the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act did not apply. In the preamble to its final rule, 
OSHA does not deny that the ergonomics regulation would impose an 
enormous unfunded mandate. But it glibly claims that the final rule is 
the most cost-effective alternative. We have already seen many 
instances where the Clinton administration thumbed its nose at the 
Unfunded Mandates Act. A GAO report I requested a couple of years ago 
concluded that the Unfunded Mandates Act has had little effect on 
agency rulemaking. I think this episode cries out for reexamining the 
Unfunded Mandates Act.
  I am concerned that many governmental entities--towns, water 
districts, volunteer fire departments, and so on--will not be able to 
sustain the cost of this unfunded mandate without increasing taxes or 
cutting vital services. Local governments simply do not have adequate 
resources to meet these far-reaching mandates from OSHA. This is true 
both in Tennessee and across America.

[[Page S1845]]

  According to the National League of Cities, out of 36,000 cities and 
towns in America, 91 percent have populations of fewer than 10,000. The 
average annual budget of these small towns and cities is about $1.6 
million. At the end of the day, there is simply no money for lawyers 
and ergonomics experts.
  But the story does not end there. This standard preempts an area of 
traditional State authority. State workers' compensation systems are 
based on decades of experience and careful deliberation. We talk about 
10 years working on this rule. What about the many more years it has 
taken to develop State workers' compensation laws that are totally 
abrogated by this rule?
  In one fell swoop, OSHA would overturn the careful policy choices of 
the States. This regulation supersedes existing State workers' 
compensation programs despite the fact that the Occupational Safety and 
Health Act makes clear that OSHA may not supersede or in any way affect 
any workers' compensation law.
  The rule's work restriction protection provisions, which require 
employers to pay 90 percent of earnings and 100 percent of benefits to 
employees unable to work, would effectively create a Federal system of 
workers' compensation. The rule would also allow employees to bypass 
the system of medical treatment provided by State law for workers' 
compensation injuries and seek diagnosis and treatment from any 
licensed health care provider.
  Did Congress intend to delegate the authority to the bureaucracy to 
establish a Federal workers' compensation law in this area and to 
preempt State laws that were formulated over the last decades? I don't 
think so. By interjecting a special Federal compensation system for 
ergonomic injuries into State compensation programs, the work 
restriction protection provisions would provide preferential treatment 
for people with musculoskeletal disorders as opposed to every other 
job-related injury or illness.
  Some local representatives have argued that the work restriction 
protection provisions could provide an employee who hurts his wrist 
playing tennis more money in benefits than current benefits provide a 
laborer who loses his arm.
  To make matters worse, the work restriction protection provisions 
double the opportunity for fraud by failing to provide employers any 
recourse for recovering workers' compensation payments from employees 
who have already received their earnings and benefits through the work 
restriction protection provisions. The double payment would take more 
money away from people with real injuries who have legitimate claims.
  My concerns are shared by many State and local governments that face 
this unfunded mandate and the erosion of their traditional authority. 
Both houses of the legislature of my home State of Tennessee are 
controlled by the Democratic Party.
  The Tennessee Legislature passed a resolution calling on Congress 
``to take all necessary measures to prevent the ergonomics regulation 
from taking effect.'' They are concerned that the ergonomics rule will 
preempt Tennessee's workers' compensation system, impose drastic 
requirements on the state government, and cause hardship for many 
Tennessee businesses. I agree, and I wish the Clinton Administration 
had listened to the representatives of the people of Tennessee.
  The concerns raised by Tennessee are shared by many other state and 
local governments. The National League of Cities, the largest and 
oldest organization representing the nation's cities and towns, has 
opposed the regulation from the beginning. The Western Governors' 
Association passed a resolution detailing how the regulation would 
supersede the entire complex of state workers' compensation provisions 
and conflict with state laws.
  Mr. President, a couple of years ago, I fought the Clinton 
Administration's attempt to repeal President Reagan's Executive Order 
on Federalism and to replace it with a new Order that would have 
created new excuses for federal meddling in state and local affairs. 
Ironically, the Clinton Administration tried to issue this executive 
order, which called for more consultation with state and local 
government, without consulting with state and local governments at all. 
A firestorm of protest from state and local officials led the White 
House to adopt a new federalism order that mimicked the Reagan Order. 
The Clinton Administration promised to consult more with state and 
local officials. But a year later, on the most burdensome regulation 
ever proposed by OSHA, the Clinton Administration did not address the 
problems raised by state and local officials, did not seriously 
consider the enormous impact of this unfunded mandate, and did not 
trouble itself with the rule's disruption of complex areas 
traditionally regulated by the states.
  I ask unanimous consent that the resolution of the Tennessee 
legislature, a letter from Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist, and the 
letters from Mayor Victor Ashe of Knoxville and Mayor Charles Farmer of 
Jackson, be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                      Senate Joint Resolution 610

       Whereas, Tennessee has enacted a comprehensive workers' 
     compensation system with incentives to employers to maintain 
     a safe workplace, to work with employees to prevent workplace 
     injuries, and to compensate employees for injuries that 
     occur; and
       Whereas, Section 4(b)(4) of the federal Occupational Safety 
     and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 653(b)(4), provides that 
     ``Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to supersede or 
     in any manner affect any workmen's compensation law or to 
     enlarge or diminish or affect in any other manner the common 
     law or statutory rights, duties or liabilities of employers 
     and employees under any law with respect to injuries, 
     diseases, or death of employees arising out of, or in the 
     course of, employment.''; and
       Whereas, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 
     (``OSHA''), notwithstanding this statutory restriction and 
     the constitutional, traditional and historical role of the 
     states in providing compensation for injuries in the 
     workplace, has nevertheless published a proposed rule that, 
     if adopted, would substantially displace the role of the 
     states in compensating workers for musculoskeletal injuries 
     in the workplace and would impose far-reaching requirements 
     for implementation of ergonomics programs; and
       Whereas, the proposed rule creates in effect a special 
     class of workers compensation benefits for ergonomic 
     injuries, requiring payment of up to six months of wages at 
     ninety percent (90%) of take-home pay and one hundred percent 
     (100%) of benefits for absence from work; and
       Whereas, the proposed rule would allow employees to bypass 
     the system of medical treatment provided by Tennessee law for 
     workers' compensation injuries and to seek diagnosis and 
     treatment from any licensed health care provider paid by the 
     employer; and
       Whereas, the proposed rule would require employers to treat 
     ergonomic cases as both workers' compensation cases and OSHA 
     cases and to pay for medical treatment under both; and
       Whereas, the proposed rule could force all manufacturers to 
     alter workstations, redesign facilities or change tools and 
     equipment, all triggered by the report of a single injury; 
       Whereas, the proposed rule would require all American 
     businesses to become full-time experts in ergonomics, a field 
     for which there is little if any credible evidence and as to 
     which there is an ongoing scientific debate; and
       Whereas, the proposed rule would cause hardship on 
     businesses and manufacturers with costs of compliance as high 
     as eighteen billion dollars ($18,000,000,000) annually, 
     without guaranteeing the prevention of a single injury; and
       Whereas, the proposed rule may force businesses to make 
     changes that would impair efficiency in distribution centers; 
       Whereas, this proposed rule is premature until the science 
     exists to understand the root cause of musculoskeletal 
     disorders, OSHA should not rush to make rules that are likely 
     to result in a loss of jobs without consensus in the 
     scientific and medical communities as to what causes 
     repetitive-stress injuries, and medical researchers must 
     answer fundamental questions surrounding ergonomics before 
     government regulators impose a one-size-fits-all solution; 
     now, therefore,
       Be it Resolved by the Senate of the One Hundred First 
     General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, the House of 
     Representatives concurring, That this General Assembly hereby 
     memorializes the United States Congress to take all necessary 
     measures to prevent the proposed ergonomics rule from taking 
       Be it further Resolved, That an enrolled copy of this 
     resolution be transmitted to the Speaker and the Clerk of the 
     United States House of Representatives; the President and the 
     Secretary of the United States Senate; and to each member of 
     the Tennessee Congressional delegation.

[[Page S1846]]

                                           State of Tennessee,

                                     Nashville, TN, March 5, 2001.
     Hon. Fred Thompson,
     Dirksen Senate Office Building,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Thompson: I'd like to offer you my support for 
     Senate Joint Resolution 6, which disapproves the ergonomics 
     rule submitted by the Department of Labor.
       I oppose unfunded federal mandates and believe in each 
     state's right to set workplace laws. The Ergo Rule is too 
     complex, too unworkable and would be far too costly for state 
     and local governments at a time when most state and local 
     governments are working to cut costs in an effort to continue 
     to provide quality, effective services without overburdening 
       In addition, the ergonomics legislation would negatively 
     impact hundreds of Tennessee businesses. For these reasons, I 
     join you and the Tennessee Association of Business, the 
     Tennessee Apparel Corporation, the Tennessee Grocers 
     Association, the Tennessee Automotive Association, the 
     Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, the Tennessee Health 
     Care Association and Chattanooga Bakery Inc. in support of 
     Senate Joint Resolution 6.
       If I can be of further assistance on this or other matters 
     please don't hesitate to call.
     Don Sundquist.

                                        The City of Knoxville,

                                     Knoxville, TN, March 5, 2001.
     Hon. Fred Thompson,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Fred: I am writing to advise you that I fully support 
     S.J.R. 6.
       This regulation regarding ergonomics is ill advised and 
     will adversely impact local governments. It will, in fact, 
     impose another unfunded mandate on local governments that 
     would prove to be extremely costly for our taxpayers. It 
     would eventually result in reduced services and/or a property 
     tax increase.
       This regulation is complex and unworkable. It is unclear 
     how state and local governments will be affected. In 
     addition, there can be no alternative position established 
     for personnel such as firefighters and police officers.
       I am hopeful your efforts to stop this regulation from 
     taking effect will meet with success.
           Sincerely yours,
                                                      Victor Ashe,

                                              City of Jackson,

                                       Jackson, TN, March 5, 2001.
     Re S.J. Resolution 6.

     Senator Fred Thompson,
     Committee on Governmental Affairs,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Thompson: I urge you to support S.J. 
     Resolution 6 which allows for disapproval of the rule 
     submitted by the Department of Labor relating to ergonomics 
     regulation for the following reasons:
       Tennessee has already enacted a comprehensive and effective 
     workers' compensation system that encourages employers to 
     provide a safe working environment and to compensate 
     employees for injuries that occur.
       The proposed rule would displace the role of states in 
     compensating workers for musculoskeletal injuries in the 
       It would require employers to compensate workers for 
     medical treatment under both the existing workers' 
     compensation rules and OSHA rules.
       The rule would force manufacturers to unnecessarily alter 
     workstations and redesign facilities, which could cause undue 
     financial hardships on businesses without guaranteeing the 
     prevention of a single injury.
       In some work environments such as fire fighting and police 
     activity it would be impossible to alter the components of 
     their job and remain effective.
       It is unclear how state and local government employees will 
     be affected by the rule.
       OSHA did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis revealing the 
     fiscal impact of the rule.
       The rule is an unfunded mandate thereby placing the burden 
     of funding on states and cities.
       In short the rule is costly and unworkable.
       Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please advise 
     as to how I can provide further assistance of information.
           Yours truly,
                                                Charles H. Farmer,