Letter to the editor

The recent announcement by John Henshaw, the assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, that OSHA will establish a voluntary standard for ergonomics is bad news for all federal workers ["Labor softens ergo stance"].

Few federal agencies had established ergonomic programs and programs to reduce injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

Mandatory standards on such issues as emergency egress have forced both the public and private sectors to ensure that employees have and secure workplaces.

A voluntary program with the words "trust management" does not really guarantee anything except continued increases in repetitive strain injuries or cumulative trauma disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The government must recognize that it cannot simply think that American workers are the same things as parts in a factory such as nuts and bolts, something that be easily replaced or thrown out to the worker's compensation garbage bin.

Workers are consumers too and the Henshaw decision is something that will tragically impact all Americans.

Howard Egerman
Health and safety representative
American Federation of Government Employees
AFL-CIO
Oakland, Calif.

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