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WASHINGTON -The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it is seeking comments for a new ergonomics regulation. An ergonomics rule, passed by the Clinton administration and criticized for being overly vague and burdensome, was overturned by President George W. Bush shortly after he took office. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Elaine Chao set forth principles for attacking the project in testimony before Congress including prevention, use of sound science, providing incentives, flexibility, feasibility, and clarity. This last prinicple was a key issue in the overturning of the last ergonomics regulation. The Department of Labor is scheduling exploratory forums to be held in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Ill., and California to gather the thoughts of the public on the subject. The forums are to focus on three questions: * What is an ergonomics injury? * How can OSHA, employers, and employees determine whether an ergonomics injury was caused by work-related activities; and if the ergonomics injury was caused by a combination of the two, what is the appropriate response? * What are the most useful and cost-effective types of government involvement to address workplaces ergonomics injuries (e.g., rulemaking, guidelines, best practices, etc.)? Chao has discussed the issue with industry representatives, the public health community, and members of Congress, in which she realized no consensus exists on the most basic questions. Additionally, the National Academy of Sciences has warned that no one solutions exists for all industries. After the forums, DOL review the data gathered and develop a rule.

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