NAII Urges Congress to Overturn Ergonomics Standard

March 7, 2001

In a letter to members of the U.S. House and Senate, National Association of Independent Insurers senior vice president of Government Affairs Robert Dibblee urged Congress to overturn recent ergonomics regulation by voting “yes” on a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act.

The ergonomics standard was promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration late last year and is scheduled to take effect Oct. 15, 2001. According to the NAII, the Congressional Review Act gives Congress 60 days to reject final regulations issued by federal agencies.

If the resolution then is signed by the President, it means that the ergonomic standard is cannot be reissued in substantially the same form. Dibblee expressed the NAII’s belief that the ergonomic standard presents serious conflicts with state workers’ compensation systems.

The letter explained that the standard requires employers to fully compensate an injured worker for 90 days and gives a green light to dipping into an injured worker’s sick leave or disability program, which is in direct violation of state workers’ compensation rules. Dibblee stated that the ergonomics standard also conflicts with state workers’ comp laws because it ignores the issue of causation of many of the injuries and would make employers pay for many conditions that originated outside the work place.

Dibblee also indicated that the issue of the dispute resolution mechanism was also in direct conflict with state workers’ comp systems that leave the final dispute resolution up to an adjudicator with input from the health care professional. Furthermore, Dibblee stated that in the final standard, OSHA had broadened the scope of affected parties and expanded the list of covered injuries.

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