ASSE Gov’t Affairs Committee 2014 Capitol Hill Visits
ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee met May 5-7 in Washington, DC, for the Committee’s annual Capitol Hill Visits, combining a Committee meeting with a day visiting key occupational safety and health agencies in which ASSE is a stakeholder and Congressional committee offices that impact occupational safety and health.
Agency meetings were held at OSHA, NIOSH and the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB).
The Committee met with NIOSH leadership to discuss a variety of issues, including ASSE interest in advancing research on effectiveness of safety management systems as well as research to help better understanding of training and professionalism among safety and health professionals in advancing workplace safety. The work of the NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies was a key NIOSH initiative discussed, and connections were made to build a relationship with Center staff.
At OSHA, among many topics, OSHA’s latest enforcement efforts and proposed policy changes, as well as ASSE’s intention to advance the discussion about risk-based approaches to both safety and the regulation of workplace safety and the role of qualified safety and health professionals in advancing safety were discussed.
At CSB, ASSE expressed support for the agency’s budget request, CSB’s efforts to deal with ongoing efforts to clarify its investigation authority with regard to other agencies and its Tesoro recommendation to adopt the safety case in the oil and gas industry.
On Capitol Hill, ASSE met with House Education and Labor Subcommitee on Workforce Protections staff on both the Republican and Democrat sides, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions staff on both sides of the aisle and House and Senate Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittees. Given the lack of occupational safety and health issues advancing currently, discussion in these meetings focused on future leadership on safety and health issues with the impending retirements of Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA), both with long history of interest in workplace safety, ASSE’s positions on recent OSHA activities, efforts to advance the issues of risk-based approaches to regulation and the profession, and concern over the recent rejection by the Office of Personnel Management of FACOSH recommendations to raise the professionalism of the GS-0018 Safety and Occupational Health Job Series. At meetings with appropriations staff, ASSE shared its support for OSHA and NIOSH budgets, including funding for ERCs and the NORA agriculture, farming and fishing research program.
At its meeting, ASSE met with government affairs staff of the National Safety Council to discuss working together to advance common goals and, among its agenda items, focused on identifying key issues for which the Committee will build white papers, preparing for expected OSHA efforts to advance exposure limits, and finding ways to raise safety and health professionals’ voices in the variety of issues involving chemical safety and security.