WASHINGTON ? Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate allegations that the Department of Labor?s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) improperly paid witnesses to testify in support of their proposed ergonomics regulation and coached them on how to prepare their testimonies.
“Serious concerns have been raised about the fairness of OSHA?s rulemaking process for their proposed ergonomics regulation,” Chairman Thompson said. “As the eyes and ears of Congress, GAO can provide an objective and nonpartisan investigation into allegations that OSHA paid and coached the expert witnesses who testified in support of the proposed standard.
“OSHA has rushed to finalize the ergonomics regulation,” continued Thompson, “and in the process they have raised serious questions about the objectivity and propriety of their rulemaking. Since this far-reaching regulation puts millions of workplaces and billions of dollars at stake, it seems to me that we should take a careful look at OSHA?s work before the horse gets out of the barn.”
Procedural concerns raised about the ergonomics rulemaking include OSHA?s failure to wait to use the National Academy of Sciences? study on ergonomics; the unusually brief public comment period for the proposal; and OSHA?s failure to carefully analyze the economic impacts of the proposed regulation on state and local governments, the Postal Service and railroads, accounting for over 10 million employees. Senators James Jeffords (R-VT), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Kit Bond (R-MO), Chairman of the Small Business Committee; and Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training; cosigned the letter requesting GAO to conduct the independent investigation.
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