In the wake of September's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Labor has decided to postpone the announcement of its plan of action on in-plant ergonomics. The announcement, which was expected in September, will be made sometime before winter.

In July, the Labor Department conducted three forums in Virginia, Illinois and California to solicit public comment on ergonomics. Expert witness testimony and written comments are under review.

The Labor Department noted that its staff and members of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) have been heavily involved in the rescue and recovery efforts at New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which has prevented the department from devoting its full attention to the ergonomics issue.

In March, Congress reversed an OSHA ergonomics standard that many business groups characterized as too vague and costly. Though information gathered at the forums will undoubtedly help to shape the Labor Department's action plan, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao outlined principles for tackling ergonomics last spring that emphasized prevention; sound science; incentives; flexibility; feasibility and clarity.