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What is Ergonomics and its purpose in the workplace?

Ergonomics, pronounced "ur go nom iks," is the field of study concerned with finding ways to keep people safe, comfortable, and productive while they perform tasks at work and home. Ergonomics is based on one simple principle: Make the task fit the person performing it without overly stressing the person's abilities or ignoring limitations. Ergonomics removes barriers to quality, productivity, and human performance. The goal of ergonomics is to design equipment, tools, job tasks, and the environment to maximize productivity and efficiency by decreasing risk of injury/illness, reducing worker fatigue and discomfort, and improving quality of work life. It is the science of fitting products, tasks, and environments to people. [FAQ]

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Ergonomics Standard Repealed

The OSHA Ergonomics Standard was repealed by the U.S. Senate and House after lobbying and pressure by business interests'. All Republicans in the Senate voted against OSHA's important protections. In Oregon, Senator Ron Wyden voted to keep the ergonomic rules while Senator Smith voted to abolish them. It took members of Congress six days (including less than 12 hours of debate) to repeal a workplace safety rule developed over the course of ten years by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

It was repealed by a congressional resolution -- introduced in Congress on March 1, 2001 under a fast-track, no-amendments, no-filibuster rule -- which sailed through the Senate on March 6 and the House the next day. The repeal action was the first ever brought under the 5-year-old Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives Congress the ability to revoke new executive-branch agency rules. It is the first OSHA regulation that has been repealed in the agency's 30-year history.

Because of this historic vote there may never be an effective Ergonomics Law in this country again. See how your senator and representative voted on the ergonomics standard.

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