Both Houses Pass Historic Rejection of OSHA’s Ergonomic Program Standard

Date: Mar 08, 2001

Last night, in an historic exercise of its responsibility to oversee the manner in which federal agencies exercise delegated legislative authority, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rescind OSHA's ergonomic program standard by a vote of 223-206. Two days ago, the U.S. Senate had passed the measure to overturn the ergonomics standard by a vote of 56-44.

President Bush has stated that he will sign the legislation into law. The result of this will be that OSHA's ergonomic program standard will have "no force or effect." Employers will not have to comply with the standard, and states with OSHA approved state plans like California and Oregon will not be required to develop functionally equivalent state standards.

The ergonomic program standard became a final rule on November 14, 2000, and went into effect on January 16, 2001. It would have required employers to implement far-reaching and potentially overwhelming changes to workplaces no later than October 15, 2001.

Congress voted to reject the final ergonomics standard under the Congressional Review Act. The Congressional Review Act, adopted in 1996 during the Clinton administration, has never been used until now to overturn a major regulation.

Thanks in part to the concerted efforts of industry through the National Coalition on Ergonomics, led by the American Trucking Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and the American Bakers Association, the Senate joint resolution was supported by all 50 Republicans and six Democrats, while the House vote was bipartisan with 16 Democrats joining 207 Republicans, crossing party lines to achieve this historic legislation. Keller and Heckman LLP is general counsel to the National Coalition on Ergonomics.

We hope this information is helpful. As always, should you have any questions, please contact David G. Sarvadi, at (202) 434-4249 or via email at sarvadi@khlaw.com, Larry Halprin at (202) 434-4177or via email at halprin@khlaw.com or Manesh Rath at 202-434-4182 or via email at rath@khlaw.com.