February 9, 2001

The Honorable John E. Sweeney
United States House of Representatives
437 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3222

H.R. 203 - NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS REGULATORY ACT OF 2001

Dear Representative Sweeney:

The purpose of this correspondence from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the world's oldest and largest society of safety professionals, is to comment on your recently introduced legislation, H.R.203 National Small Business Regulatory Act of 2001. Our members understand, and commend, your commitment to facilitate regulatory compliance for small businesses. We believe that the nation's occupational safety, health, and environmental laws should be of the highest priority. It is important to point out that we do not speak either for or against this legislation. Our sole objective is to offer comment that is based on good science and sound technology, which will lead to the establishment of sound public policy. ASSE stands ready to assist you, or your staff, if there is a need for expertise in such matters. In lieu of an extensive introduction of ASSE, we have attached a Fact Sheet for your review, (Attachment #1).

ASSE is educating industries, corporations, organizations and the public on the significant benefits resulting from effective occupational safety, health, and environmental management programs. Our objective is to focus the attention of employers, employees, and the general public on the importance of preventing injury, illness, and environmental exposures in the workplace and show that these important business functions are worthwhile investments, which positively impact the organizational bottom line.

The ASSE membership has long spoken out on the need to enhance occupational safety, health, and environmental management for small businesses. Small businesses represent a significant area of growth for the nation's economy and efforts to maintain this growth along with compliance are seriously needed. One of the greatest "myths" is that small businesses, overall, are not interested in compliance with occupational safety, health, and environmental management laws because they are focused on simply being able to remain competitive. We disagree with this view, as our experience would appear to indicate the opposite. If a small business experiences a fatality, injury, illness, or environmental exposure they are faced with the potential of going out of business due to the legal, financial, and business hazards they will be required to face. In some cases small business is more proactive toward occupational safety and health issues. While this is not always the case, it is important to note that many small businesses understand the reasons why it is important to be in compliance with the different laws.

In December of 1998, ASSE initiated a survey of safety consultants for data and feedback on the use of third party auditors and evaluators in the workplace. A total of 2,400 consultants were surveyed with a response rate of 275 (13.1%). While we do not maintain that this survey is the prevailing authority of opinion on such issues, it does give an excellent "snap-shot in time". Of interest is the fact that sixty-six of the responders reported that their consulting practice focuses on businesses with 10-15 employees and that 26% of the responders have a significant business clientele with less than 10 employees. We believe this information is important since it would appear to indicate that small businesses, indeed, are interested in occupational safety, health, and environmental management, and are willing to dedicate some time and resources to these important business functions.

The Society has experience in assisting small business entities. We have participated in the OSHA "pro-bono consultation program" and have also assisted with several other pilot programs directed toward small business. Perhaps one of the best examples is the new NIOSH publication: Safety and Health Resource Guide for Small Business, (Attachment #2). We also note that OSHA has an office dedicated to small businesses, and we have worked with this office as well. The NIOSH publication should be of interest to you and your staff since it has much of the information useful to a small business center as addressed in your bill. The ASSE informative section begins on Page 26. In fact, you will hopefully note from the NIOSH publication that the ASSE Safety and Health Management Guide for Small Business has been recognized by regulators at the state level.

In regard to the section addressing referrals to experts, and providers of compliance assistance, we suggest you consider leaving the issue of competence of experts to the Small Business Administration. We have attached the draft American National Standard Z590.1 Establishing Levels of Competence and Certification in the Safety Profession, (Attachment #3). This national consensus document, when finalized, will establish a recognized measurement of competence. However, we would strongly advise you to stay away from citing specific licenses, credentials, or certifications in either the legislation or report language since it would only be controversial and draw attention away from what you are trying to accomplish.

As this legislation moves forward, we hope you will consider calling on ASSE. If hearings on this legislation are scheduled, ASSE formally requests to be considered as a witness. Thank you for your time and consideration, and please feel free to contact us at the number listed above if you should have any questions, issues, or concerns.

Sincerely Yours,

Samuel J. Gualardo, CSP
Society President, 2000-2001

SJG/TRF/CORRS1413
Encl.

     

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