OSHA tackles ergonomics with a four-part plan, while ASA and CWA members fight for a permanent repeal of the Death Tax.

At the Central Wholesalers Association meeting in Columbus, Ohio, Pat O'Connor of Kent and O'Connor, a Washington lobbying firm retained by American Supply Association, gave the attendees an update of the ongoing work in Washington. O'Connor said that the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a revised ergonomics plan in which they will develop voluntary guidelines for certain industries to reduce workplace injuries. This plan replaces the regulations repealed last year by Congress. The four-part plan includes voluntary guidelines, specialized training of OSHA staff on workplace hazards, training grants to address workplace injuries and targeted enforcement.

According to OSHA, 30% of lost work-time injuries are caused by musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). By instituting the four-part plan, OSHA's goal is to reduce the number of MSDs and improve the ergonomical aspect of the industry's workstations.

Another issue discussed was the repeal of the "death tax." While it was reduced under the $1.35 trillion tax cut enacted last year, it will expire in 2010.

"This is a big priority for ASA," said O'Connor. "They are working with the people in DC to keep the pressure on Congress to make the repeal of the death tax permanent." According to a release by CWA, ASA and other members of the Estate Tax Coalition are pleased with the success in keeping the death tax issue on the "front burner" in Congress.

O'Connor also talked about the Department of Transportation delaying action on a proposed rule to temporarily lower the registration fees paid by hazardous materials transporters. Under current rules, upcoming fees for small businesses are $300 apiece. All other registrants must pay $2,000. The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act requires the Department to adjust the fees in order to eliminate a surplus in the fund, but no actions have been taken. Many business groups have written to Congress, requesting the fee be reduced to $250 for everyone.

Also discussed was a new accounting procedure issued by the IRS to expand the use of the cash method of accounting for businesses with gross receipts of $10 million or less. The Revenue Procedure 2002-28 has nothing to prevent it from being withdrawn, so many members of Congress are urging the Secretary of Treasury and the IRS to make this change permanent, changing it from a "procedure" to a "regulation."

In closing, O'Connor briefly discussed changes in the American Disabilities Act. Eyesight problems that can be corrected are no longer covered under ADA. Neither is Carpal Tunnel, a condition of compressive entrapment of the median nerve at the wrist with associated pain and a possible loss of some motor skills.

Next year, CWA will join up with MAD, the Michigan Association of Distributors, to conduct an ASA Region 4 Convention at Maumee Bay Resort near Toledo, Ohio.