AIA Optimistic about Bush Administration Ergonomics Announcement

January 15, 2002

The American Insurance Association (AIA) has reiterated its strong opposition to any new federal ergonomics rule that would require mandated compensation levels or any other provision that would conflict or supercede the state-based workers’ compensation system.

AIA spoke out in response to reports that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is about to unveil its strategy to address ergonomics-related workplace injuries. AIA has been working with DOL officials since Congress rejected the former ergonomics rule early last year to shape a new ergonomics proposal.

“Throughout the ergonomics debate over the last year, AIA has consistently voiced its objection to any new rule or provision that will adversely affect the workers’ compensation system or seek to federalize the state workers’ compensation system,” stated John Savercool, AIA vice president, federal affairs. “Our main objection to the now repealed Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) ergonomics rule was the ‘work restriction’ provisions that mandated compensation, adding substantial costs to both the insurance industry and business community.”

DOL secretary Elaine Chao held a series of forums last summer to gather information on how to remedy the problem of ergonomics in the workplace.

Notwithstanding AIA’s belief that DOL’s decision on ergonomics will be acceptable, AIA president Robert E. Vagley has sent a letter to Chao, reiterating strong opposition to any initiative that would include compensation mandates.

The ergonomics rule was repealed last spring by Congress under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which was used for the first time ever to overturn a pending federal regulation. “In retrospect, the flawed ergonomics rule was tailor-made for the Congressional Review Act and was the type of regulation that bill proponents had in mind when they crafted the 1996 act,” said Savercool.

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