Congress Threatens Regulation Protecting Working Women

Congress is threatening to nullify a regulation that establishes workplace ergonomics standards – an unprecedented Congressional move that would effectively prevent any similar future regulations. Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Act established an ergonomic standard to prevent the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) including repetitive strain injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Women workers suffer a disproportionate number of these injuries. While women make up 46 percent of the work force and 33 percent of those injured at work, they account for 64 percent of repetitive motion injuries that result in lost work time.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) gives Congress the power to disapprove regulations issued by federal agencies, including measures issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. A Congressional resolution to abolish the standard in question eventually goes to the full House or Senate for a vote, but in the Senate debate is limited to 10 hours. If this case is argued in the Senate, it is unlikely that workers most affected by MSDs (women and minorities) would have a chance to testify. In addition, under the CRA, agencies whose regulations are dismissed are prevented from ever issuing a similar regulation in the future.

Help working women by calling your Senator and urging them to uphold the OSHA ergonomics standard. Call 202-224-3121 for your Senator’s office or visit the AFL-CIO’s Action on the OSHA ergonomics standard.

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