- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2000

Column's posturing on OSHA proposal misses mark

Richard Mahoney's June 13 column on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) ergonomics proposal completely misses the mark ("Ergonomics designed by OSHA," Commentary, June 13).

OSHA's proposal, scheduled to be finalized at the end of this year, not this summer as the column implies, does not take a one-size-fits-all approach. It encourages employers to adopt solutions that work in their workplaces for their employees. In fact, 75 percent of covered employers would not need to take any action unless one of their employees actually experienced a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).

Overstated cost estimates are based on complete redesign and retooling of entire factories and full-fledged restructuring of work drastic measures that are neither necessary nor required by the proposal. The estimates also assume that productivity would go down. Yet most employers that have established ergonomics programs report significant savings in workers' compensation costs as well as increases in productivity that more than pay for the cost of fixing problems.

Top companies such as 3M, Ford Motor Co., Kraft Foods and Fieldcrest Cannon have recognized MSDs as a real problem and found that good ergonomics is good economics. It's time for the rest of America's employers to adopt the best practices of leading employers to prevent injuries and reduce costs.

Do we need additional studies, as Mr. Mahoney suggests? Certainly further research is always welcome. But both the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 1997 found a direct link between work and MSDs.

Leading safety and health and medical professionals have encouraged OSHA to move forward in developing an ergonomics standard, including the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and the American Nurses Association.

We know enough to act now. OSHA would be making a serious mistake on behalf of the 1.8 million workers who suffer work-related MSDs each year if it failed to take action to prevent these avoidable injuries.

CHARLES N. JEFFRESS

Assistant secretary

Occupational Safety and Health

Administration

U.S. Department of Labor

Washington

How to 'de-Clintonize America'

Left-wing activist Lenora B. Fulani may be justified accusing Pat Buchanan of using her until the nomination to be the Reform Party's standard bearer was within his grasp. I would rather believe, however, that Mr. Buchanan came to his senses before it was too late ("Morality matters," Op-Ed, June 22).

Mr. Buchanan's choice for his running mate should reflect his views and be a prominent woman, of which there are many to choose.

After all, Mr. Buchanan didn't leave the Republican Party to lead a diluted form of it. More importantly, he is the only presidential candidate who can de-Clintonize America.

CHRIS CHERONIS

Wheaton

Police officers: Our unsung heroes

It is a sad commentary on society when common criminals are elevated to celebrity status by virtue of their infamy while heroes remain unsung. Since I have no connection with law enforcement, my opinions are based on common sense. Police officers are the true heroes and heroines of our mean streets across this nation. Their appreciated vigil has not been without costs, both emotional and physical.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (administered by Chairman Craig W. Floyd) in the District starkly attests to too many such fallen defenders of public safety. Effective law enforcement is nothing so much as a partnership, one of unconditional acceptance, respect, tolerance and support between the police and public. May another name never be inscribed upon Mr. Floyd's memorial because of criminals or those who support them.

STAFF SGT. JOE HAMMELL

U.S. Army (Retired)

Waynesboro, Pa.

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In an age when everyone is quick to criticize, condemn and complain about our police forces, I wish to express my appreciation, gratitude and admiration for the Montgomery County police officers who have worked in such an exemplary manner to apprehend the man who, by his own words, is responsible for the murder of Monsignor Thomas Martin Wells.

The professionalism of the police in handling this case, as well as their kindness to the relatives and parishioners of Monsignor Wells, was well noted. They are unsung heroes in many cases other than this one, and I wanted the police officers to know that many residents of Montgomery County are grateful for their dedication and service.

BARBARA MENG

Silver Spring

New policy for '527' groups should be adopted

Over the years, some organizations have been getting away with political murder. They are exerting a growing influence over the electoral process by using financial contributions from anonymous donors to pay for unregulated negative political advertising about federal political candidates in an election year.

The best examples of these are the so-called "527" organizations, made infamous because they file tax returns as a "political organization" as described in Section 527 of the tax code, which confers tax-exempt status on them. But some of them deny they are political under campaign finance law to avoid having to disclose their election activities, allowing them to raise unlimited sums of cash to pay for issue ads to elect or defeat a political candidate without having to reveal their donors or expenditures or pay income taxes on the money.

Many groups on both the left and the right of the political spectrum are 527 entities registered with the Internal Revenue Service the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association are among them. However, not all 527s engage in these kinds of political activities. Our organization, the Republican Main Street Partnership, is one that does not. Even though we sponsor no political-issue advertising, we voluntarily disclose our major donors.

We are proud of the legislative efforts of leaders of the Republican Main Street Partnership particularly Reps. Amo Houghton, Michael N. Castle and Christopher Shays to formulate a bipartisan compromise on disclosure. We are hopeful that the final measure approved by the House and Senate will require a broad range of tax-exempt organizations once they have spent more than $10,000 on election-related ads in a calendar year to disclose the names of all donors of $1,000 or more to their political advertising efforts.

While candidates still must take responsibility for the content of their ads, this legislation is aimed at those groups that take advantage of loopholes in the law and communicate their partisan message while hiding behind shadowy organizations with innocuous-sounding names. This giant loophole will be closed with the passage of our legislation.

All Section 527 organizations, and other similar groups, should change their policies. Don't wait for the passage of legislation to do it. Americans have the right to know who is trying to influence their votes.

M.J. JAMESON

Executive director

Republican Main Street Partnership

Washington

The Republican Main Street Partnership is the nation's largest group of moderate Republican elected officials, with 54 House and Senate members.

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