OSHA in for a PR and legal attack

WASHINGTON: Opponents have launched a legal and PR counteroffensive against the ergonomics regulation mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last week.

WASHINGTON: Opponents have launched a legal and PR counteroffensive against the ergonomics regulation mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last week.

WASHINGTON: Opponents have launched a legal and PR counteroffensive against the ergonomics regulation mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last week.

The regulation, which will affect 102 million workers, requires employers to evaluate injury risk in certain jobs and to implement necessary changes.

It goes into effect January 16.

An umbrella group, called National Coalition on Ergonomics (NCE), has led the campaign against OSHA's rule since 1994. Its membership includes the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Labor Policy Association.

The regulation has been mired in the legislative process for 10 years, so the NCE's campaign has now shifted from lobbying over the language and nature of the inevitable ruling, to protesting the unsatisfactory outcome.

Opponents complain that the rule is being instituted too quickly, and that the medical science behind it is still not fully understood. Members trying to block the rule have filed lawsuits in federal court.

The NCE had retained Woodward & McDowell as PR counsel until November 1999, when it was forced to scale back the relationship for financial reasons. Since then, it has relied on a grassroots effort and the network of internal PR teams of its larger members.

'Woodward & McDowell has been generous about sharing contact lists and tricks of the trade,' said Robb MacKie, co-chair of the NCE's lobbying task force. 'We have a steering committee and have had to try to do this through press releases.' Other strategies include making medical experts who oppose the regulation available to the media.

NCE plans to hold a seminar in Washington, DC in the coming months, to educate members about the ruling.



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