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Republicans are on the warpath, and the target is familiar. TheGOP is mounting an effort to prevent OSHA from issuing a final ruledictating what companies must do to protect their workers fromrepetitive motion injuries. This ergonomics rule, due out this fallafter extensive nationwide hearings and about eight years ofplanning, has become a rallying point for business groups concernedthat it would unnecessarily increase their operating costs.
OSHA issued a proposed rule in November 1999 saying that acompany, no matter what its size, would have to institute a majorsix-point ergonomics program once a single worker reports amusculoskeletal disorder (MSD) that was suffered on the job andmeets OSHA's criteria. (See March's "CapitolIssues" for more of the proposal's specifics.) The agencyincluded a number of concessions for small businesses, including a"quick fix" alternative that would allow a company tobypass the six-point program by correcting a hazard within 90 daysand checking within 30 days to see that the fix works. But assmall-business groups began to pour through the 300-page FederalRegister notice, their resistance rose.
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