In a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, ASSE stated its support for the Administration’s proposal to fund the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). The Administration proposed funding CSB at $11.484 milion, an 8.8% increase over its current funding. ASSE also requested report language to accompany a final appropriations bill that would require the Administration to resolve differences among various federal agencies in setting investigative priorities at incident sites where explosions occur as well as in sharing information gathered at these sites. CSB created a Facebook page that, in part, includes various newspaper articles representing CSB’s perspective on the difficulties it faced in carrying out an investigation at the site of the April fertilizer explosion in West, Texas. An October 2010 CSB letter to Congress outlines a variety of investigations where it faced difficulties in carrying out investigations.
ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) conducted its annual Capitol Hill visits and meeting in Washington, DC, May 4-7 in conjunction with ASSE NAOSH Week activities hosted by OSHA at the Department of Labor. The GAC meets twice a year, in the spring in DC and in the fall in Des Plaines, typically.
On Capitol Hill, in two half days of meetings, the GAC met with lead Republican staff members on occupational safety and health issues of the House Education and Workforce Committee, lead Democratic and Republican staff members on the same issues for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the lead Democratic staff of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor and Health and Human Services issues. The meetings serve to further ongoing, positive conversations the GAC has on various issues in play that impact ASSE members.
Dominating this year’s meetings was the concrete stalemate in Congress on occupational safety and health issues. As in previous Congresses, the Protecting America’s Workers Act and mine safety reform legislation have been reintroduced, but there is no indication these major pieces of legislation as well as the codification of VPP, a bill to require an OSHA combustible dust standard, and others are likely to move forward. On budget issues, both sides of the aisle are sympathetic to ASSE’s concern that OSHA and MSHA receive adequate funding and that NIOSH not lose the Education and Resource Centers and the NORA Research Program in Agriculture, Farming and Fishing proposed by the Administration. It was particularly evident that the voices of ASSE and 194 other stakeholders in support of these programs had been heard. But, again, the fractured nature of current DC politics and a budget process that no one can predict how and when it will be played out make it difficult to feel confident about what an eventual appropriations bill will contain.
The GAC also continues to raise its draft OSH reform bill in discussions. Containing ideas from both sides of the aisle that would help address OSHA’s ability to do its job, one positive idea that came from the discussions was that updating permissible exposure limits (PELs) may be one element of the bill that could receive bipartisan support. ASSE will continue to explore this possibility.
On the Administration side, ASSE met with Assistant Secretary David Michaels and Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab to discuss various issues, including the impact of sequestration, prospects of an I2P2 and other standards, temporary workers and ASSE members’ recent contributions to OSHA’s understanding of the issue, and OSHA’s efforts at advancing best practices in whistleblower protections, among other issues.
The GAC also met with the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s (CSB) Chairman, Rafael Moure-Eraso and Dan Horowitz, the CSB’s managing director. Of key interest was the CSB’s investigation in West, Texas, and the issue of which agency had priority in investigations, an ongoing concern for CSB. The GAC is considering a response to that issue.
With John Howard, NIOSH’s Director, the GAC discussed the impact of sequestration on NIOSH capabilities, the importance of wellness in the context of the Affordable Care Act, continuing concerns of how best to advance safety in research and education programs funded by NIOSH and efforts to support ASSE member understanding of resources available through NIOSH’s Center for Motor Vehicle Safety. As a result of that conversation, a session on the Center’s work has been included in this year’s PDC.
Finally, the GAC met with lead staff of the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to discuss both further cooperation, given the growing membership in the oil and gas industry, as well as PHMSA’s efforts to work with standards development organization (SDO) like ASSE to meet a DOT appropriations bill provision that barred the agency from citing standards that were not free. This has been a concern of ASSE, and the GAC will continue to address the issue.
Photos Top: (l to r) GAC Chair Jim Thornton, Bob Andrews, Ron Sokol, President Elect Kathy Seabrook and Ernie Harper. Middle: ASSE Arizona Member Jeremy Bethancourt receiving the first ASSE Triangle Award for Heroism at OSHA-sponsored NAOSH Week event, with ASSE President Rick Pollock and OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. Bottom: (l to r) Andrews, Sokol, Seabrook, Thornton, Harper, Asst. Secretary Michaels, ASSE Federal Rep. Adele Abrams, Cindy Roth, Michael Wood and Deputy Asst. Secretary Jordan Barab
In a May 16 letter, ASSE urged President Obama to direct his Administration to move forward OSHA rulemaking on an injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) standard as an appropriate response to the April 19 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, that took 15 lives as well as the nearly 13 lives lost each day in US workplaces. A well-written standard that require every employer to develop an I2P2 program would help ensure that every employer takes responsibility both for identifying safety and health risks in each workplace and establishing specific controls to manage those risks, ASSE President Rick Pollock wrote. Stakeholder meetings on the rulemaking were held in June 2010, and the Department of Labor’s latest Unified Agenda stated that the SBREFA process was to begin in January of this year. “A national debate on that standard is much needed and long overdue,” Pollock wrote.
For the third year, the Obama Administration has proposed eliminating funding for the National Insitute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Education and Research Centers (ERCs) and the NORA Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AgFF) research program. In response, ASSE has joined with 220 other stakeholders in NIOSH and these programs to oppose the programs’ elimination in letters to leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, HHS, Education. To date, this growing list of Friends of NIOSH have succeeded in saving these programs. NIOSH is valued on both sides of the political aisle on Capitol Hill. Given the uncertain fiscal environment in the political process, however, nothing is certain. In the recent meetings ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee had on Capitol Hill May 6-7, support for NIOSH was one of the key talking points. ASSE will continue that work.
Citing concerns over the agency’s lack of appropriate resources with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), ASSE and AIHA in a letter to Senator Tom Harken, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, to request a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on whether National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should remain within CDC and, if not, where it should be placed. NIOSH is the nation’s only resource for significant research and training in occupational safety and health. Its already inadequate resources have increasingly gone to CDC overhead, and ASSE and other stakeholders have repeatedly opposed CDC’s repeated efforts to eliminate funding for research in farming, fishing and forestry and for Education Resources Centers, which educate significant numbers of health and safety professionals, in the Administration’s federal budget proposals.
ASSE provided comments for the record of OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project – Phase IV Request for Information based significantly on its role as Secretariat to the ANSI-accredited A10 Committee for Construction and Demolition Operations and the ANSI/ASSE Z9 Committee for Health and Safety Standards for Ventilation Systems. The comments included a detailed matrix of changes ASSE is urging OSHA to make to the 29 CFR 1926 Safety and Health Regulations for Construction to update consensus standards refernces in the regulations, along with copies of the standards for OSHA’s use. Also included was a copy of the recently updated Construction Safety Management and Engineering, the widely respected, comprehensive reference for managing risks on construction sites, and asked that it be referenced in 1926 appendices.
Secretary Solis’ comments on her resignation can be found at http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/opa/OPA20130053.htm
From a January 11, 2013, ASSE press release –
American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Richard A. Pollock, CSP,
responds to the recent resignation of U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis:
“On the announcement of her resignation, ASSE thanks and congratulates Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis for her service to the nation. We are pleased that, under her leadership, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been a positive partner in the discussion about how to energize and move forward this nation’s commitment to occupational safety and health. While ASSE and its members may not agree on every direction the current OSHA has taken, we do appreciate that under her leadership there has been willingness at OSHA to share ideas and listen to what our members have to say about the best ways to protect this nation’s workers on the job. Secretary Solis should be given
credit for supporting that environment. We have no doubt that Secretary Solis
will provide similar positive leadership in her future endeavors and wish her
good luck. As we do with every Administration’s choices to lead the Department
of Labor and OSHA, ASSE looks forward to working with a new Secretary of Labor who we trust will continue to provide thoughtful, cooperative leadership at the Department of Labor.”
ASSE has nominated Ron Sokol, CSP, to serve as a public member on OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). Ron is the organizational leader for the Safety Council of Texas City, Texas, which works with employers and contractors to train construction workers in the petrochemical industry. He is a member of the NIOSH NORA Construction Council and serves as the Council on Professional Standards representative on ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee, among many of his achievements.
In response to ASSE’s effort on behalf of its Arizona members to see that the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health enforce federal OSHA’s residential fall protection standard, ASSE received a letter from OSHA’s Phoenix Area Office outlining OSHA’s Complaint About State Program Administration (CASPA) investigation. ADOSH has 30 days to respond to OSHA’s findings and requirements. In the last minutes of its session this year, the Arizona legislature passed into law of Senate Bill 1441 that made sure Arizona employers cannot be required to protected construction workers from falls under elevations of 15 feet, which is 9 feet more than OSHA’s standard.
ASSE has been working with its local members in the New York and New Jersey areas to get help to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. At the personal request of Assistant Secretary David Michaels, ASSE, NSC and AIHA have reached out to companies to encourage them to donate PPE and other safety equipment to nonprofits in New York and New Jersey who can distribute the donations to workers.
ASSE has also begun a grass roots effort to reach out to members connected to ASSE through government affairs to reach out to suppliers, their employers and others to donate PPE and other safety equipment for distribution to workers in the impact area.
In addition, the ASSE Foundation has stepped up to serve as a repository of financial contributions, 100% of which will be given to ASSE’s New York City Chapter for the purchase of PPE that Chapter members will distribute to workers. The New York City Chapter is holding a fundraiser November 29 and offered to match up to $2500 in contributions.
But, the need is great and will not end soon. You can still help –
- Encourage your suppliers or employer or anyone else to donate PPE. Everything is needed, from safety vests to rubber chemical resistant and leather gloves to electrically insulated boots and N 95 respirators. Contact OSHA’s Cathie M. Mannion, Assistant Regional Administrator for Technical Support, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 347-996-2041 for specific donation information and delivery locations.
- Donate to the ASSE Sandy PPE Fund by filling in the form at the link and typing “Sandy PPE Fund” in the space after Other.
- Spread the message and encourage others to spread the message.
- Let email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org know if you are contributing or have helped find someone else to contribute, if you can.
ASSE’s power is in its members. Thanks for proving that once again.
In an effort to help make sure the purpose and value of OSHA and NIOSH is not lost in the fervent and highly political debate on the federal budget now underway in Washington, DC, ASSE joined with the National Safety Council (NSC) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) to raise a united voice in support of the budgets for those agencies. The letter to Chairman Tom Harkin of the Senate Labor‐HHS‐Education Appropriations Subcommittee also addresses several appropriations riders that would limit OSHA’s capabilities and argues for the protection of the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AgFF) sector research program and Education and Research Centers (ERCs). The organizations will also lobby together for the agencies on Capitol Hill.
ASSE is asking its members to reach out to employers and other organizations to join the Society as members of the 85-3 Campaign. As the invitation from the campaign indicates, the 85-3 Campaign recognizes organizations and employers that, as part of their hearing protection strategy for workers, have adopted the 85 dBA noise protection level.
It’s easy to join by simply contacting the campaign directly at email@example.com. And, if you can, please let Dave Heidorn know of your effort at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On joining the campaign this year, ASSE President Richard A. Pollock, CSP, said in a statement, “On behalf of its nearly 35,000 member safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals, ASSE is pleased to join the 85-3 Coalition and looks forward to working with the coalition’s members to support the adoption of the 85-dBA average exposure limit for an 8-hour day measured with a 3-dB exchange rate. The appropriateness of the 85-3 level is widely accepted in practice by our members and many of the employers with whom they work throughout the world.”
Early in the year, ASSE urged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to focus its efforts to improve hearing protection on lowering OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) for noise from the current 90 dBA (decibel) to 85 dBA. 85-3 is also required in the ANSI/ASSE A10.46 Standard “Hearing Loss Prevention for Construction and Demolition Workers” , and NIOSH has known the gains in hearing protection 85-3 can achieve for decades.
ASSE has joined the 85-3 Campaign, which recognizes organizations and employers that, as part of their hearing protection strategy for workers, have adopted the 85 dBA noise protection level. “On behalf of its nearly 35,000 member safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals, ASSE is pleased to join the 85-3 Coalition and looks forward to working with the coalition’s members to support the adoption of the 85-dBA average exposure limit for an 8-hour day measured with a 3-dB exchange rate,” ASSE President Richard A. Pollock, CSP, said in a statement. “The appropriateness of the 85-3 level is widely accepted in practice by our members and many of the employers with whom they work throughout the world.” Earlier this year, ASSE urged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to focus its efforts to improve hearing protection on lowering OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) for noise from the current 90 dBA (decibel) to 85 dBA. 85-3 is also required in the ANSI/ASSE A10.46 Standard “Hearing Loss Prevention for Construction and Demolition Workers” , and NIOSH has known the gains in hearing protection 85-3 can achieve for decades.
On September 20-21, OSHA, BSEE, EPA, PHMSA and the Coast Guard came together with stakeholders in the oil and gas industry in Texas City, Texas, to discuss regulatory issues facing the industry at the “Expert Forum on the Use of Performance-Based Regulatory Models in the US Oil and Gas Industry, Offshore and Onshore.” Government Affairs Committee and Oil and Gas Practice Specialty members Gene Barfield and Ron Sokol represented ASSE at the meeting. In its comments, ASSE commended the agencies and OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels’ leadership for taking the unprecedented step of bringing together 5 agencies to discuss an issue of common concern. From member input, ASSE’s comments addressed specific questions posed by the agencies aimed at gathering more information on how best to bring together risk-based with needed prescriptive approaches. Among its detailed comments, ASSE shared members’ experience with Process Safety Management (PSM) and expressed its encouragement in the risk-based approach taken in the Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) being implemented off shore.
Recognizing ASSE members’ responsibility for managing interactions with OSHA for their employers, the Government Affairs Committee thought it important that members understand as much as possible about the variety of administrative actions OSHA is taking to focus the agency’s enforcement efforts. A summary of those various actions has been prepared by Adele Abrams, Esq., ASSE’s Federal Representative. The intent is to provide ASSE members with a broad understanding of how the current OSHA is undertaking its enforcement responsibilities. You can find the document at Federal OSHA’s Increased Focus on Enforcement.
In a letter to Assistant Secretary David Michaels, ASSE commended OSHA for its report, Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Review. ASSE said the report was thoughtful, frank and helpful and that the report validated the value of VPP. ASSE supported most of the report’s recommendations, including continuing to provide exemptions from programmed inspections for participants, expanded use of special government employees, the reporting of participants’ best practices, and establishing a cooperative way to identify effective lagging indicators, leading indicators, and outcome measures to track VPP performance. ASSE urged caution in pursuing the recommendation to place participants on inactive status in case of a fatality, urging a more nuanced, cooperative approach.
On behalf of ASSE’s members, President Rick Pollock congratulated John Bresland on his retirement from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). His letter thanked Bresland for his leadership in helping CSB achieve deserved levels of respect and support. Bresland’s commitment to CSB’s mission has given ASSE members insight and information into workplace risks that they have used to help employers prevent worker deaths, injuries and illnesses, Pollock said.
ASSE nominated James Thornton, CSP, CIH, for reappointment as Chair of OSHA’s Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health(MACOSH) in a letter to Assistant Secretary for OSHA David Michaels. Jim has had a long and distinguished career committed to protecting workers in the shipbuilding industry and has demonstrated similar leadership in his profession. As Chair of ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee, he is engaged in building ASSE’s voice in public affairs issues and is a former President of AIHA. He is a well recognized proponent of OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program and is the current Chair of MACOSH.
In a letter to Assistant Secretary David Michaels, ASSE nominated Rixio E. Medina, CSP, CPP, to continue to serve as a member of OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). Rixio is a leading expert in protecting workers and property in the petrochemical industry and a widely respected leader in the occupational safety and health community. He is a current member of NACOSH, the second time he has served under two different Administrations. He has served on the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. As a Professional Member of ASSE, he has served on ASSE’s board, as a founding member of Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce, and as a trustee of the ASSE Foundation. He also been on the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and involved in organizations in the petrochemical industry, in education and training, in security, and in emergency response.
In a letter to U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, ASSE urged adoption of recommendations made by OSHA’s Federal Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) to upgrade federal safety and health positions. ASSE expressed full support FACOSH’s May 2011 recommendations to upgrade the GS-0018, Safety and Occupational Health Management job series:
- That OPM delete the option of using experience alone as a qualification for the series and require education and/or professional certification as a CSP, CIH, or CHP.
- That the series be moved the Administrative Series to the Professional Series.
- That OPM include “from an accredited college or university” with the education requirements.
Today’s safety and health professional confronts complex risks that did not exist a decade ago, much less in 1980 when the GS-0018 series was written, ASSE said. Organizations must place safety and health professionals in positions that allow them to provide leadership in meeting these risks. The FACOSH recommendations are specifically aimed at helping make sure that federal safety and health professionals are able to provide organizational leadership in protecting workers and serving the American people efficiently and effectively.
On June 27, the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing entitled “Promoting Safe Workplaces Through Voluntary Protection Programs.” Among several issues its comments addressed, ASSE urged consideration that an OSHA standard requiring all employers, as in VPP, to have in place an injury and illness prevention plan (I2P2) may be the only way OSHA’s overall approach to workplace regulation can be in line with how the best results in workplace safety are achieved. As an ASSE member said, “All of OSHA should be VPP.” ASSE also reiterated its strong support for VPP, backed continued research into the effectiveness of all OSHA programs, and stated its agreement that incentives designed to discourage workers from reporting injuries cannot be part of VPP. You can watch the hearing at http://edworkforcehouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=99.
In a letter to Assistant Secretary David Michaels, ASSE urged OSHA to ensure that the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) meets its obligation as a state plan to be “at least as effective as” federal OSHA and enforce fall protection for residential construction workers at 6 feet. ASSE’s Arizona members requested the Society’s help in addressing the passage into law of Senate Bill 1441 that made sure Arizona employers cannot be required to protected construction workers from falls under elevations of 15 feet. ASSE also urged OSHA to work with ADOSH outreach efforts to advance understanding of the importance of a 6-foot standard. SB 1441 bars enforcement of less than a 15-foot standard but not the sharing of best practices on how to protect construction workers from falls.
OSHA’s HazCom/GHS final rule has been challenged in the US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, by the American Petroleum Institute, the American Tort Reform Association, CropLife America and a coalition of five other industry groups, including American Chemistry Council (ACC). The Chamber of Commerce has expressed support for the Petitions for Judicial Review. The Petitions do not provide specifics about the basis for each challenge. Such information will be included in later filings. However, there are concerns about conflicts between OSHA’s and EPA’s labeling requirements for fungicides and rodenticides. Prior to the final rule, ACC expressed concern about the inclusion of combustible dust and use of “hazards not otherwise classified” in the rule.
Questions about This Action
1. Does this delay implementation of the rule?
Not likely. There is no automatic stay from filing an appeal – the parties would have to file a motion to stay with the Court of Appeals (all of the lawsuits challenging the rule have were filed with the D.C. Circuit). The Rules of Appellate Procedure require that, in most cases, a party asking the Court of Appeals to stay an administrative agency order must first file a motion for stay with the agency, then with the Court of Appeals. The criteria for a stay in the court of appeals is (1) whether the petitioner has made a strong showing that it is likely to prevail on the merits, (2) that without the stay, petitioner will be irreparably harmed, (3) a stay is in the public interest. Given the time periods for implementation of the GHS in the rule, it is not likely that a court would find irreparable harm if a stay is not granted, even if the parties do request one.
2. Assuming plaintiffs win, what is the effect on the rule? Would the Court throw the whole rule out or strike specific items?
Most likely strike specific items. Only the “barebones” petitions for appeal have been filed thus far, so what relief the petitioners will ask for is not known. But, according to reports, the petitioners will ask for relief on specific provisions of the rule (e.g. CropLife America’s challenge is to pesticide labeling, American Tort Reform Association pertains to non-preemption, ACC to combustible dust, and API to the definition of hazardous mixtures). Even if the petitioners did ask for the whole rule to be thrown out, it is unlikely the Court of Appeals would do so. Generally, in challenges to OSHA standards, if the petitioners complaints are with specific provisions (as compared to the overall legal criteria that OSHA applied or procedural errors in the rulemaking), the Courts of Appeals have not “thown out” the entire rule but returned the “offending parts” to the agency for changes.
Prepared by the Law Offices of Adele Abrams, Esq., ASSE’s Federal Representative
On May 7, ASSE President Terrie Norris and NIOSH Director John Howard signed a partnership agreement between ASSE and NIOSH. The wide-ranging agreement aims to bring ASSE members and NIOSH staff closer together to advancing research and understanding of the value occupational safety and health brings to business and the American people, develop and disseminating information on worker safety and health, and support opportunities for NIOSH staff and researchers and ASSE members to share information and develop cooperative relationships, among other goals.
In a comment to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), ASSE strongly opposed possible rulemaking to amend OFR’s regulations defining “reasonably available” or change current requirements related to materials incorporated by reference (IBR) in regulations published in the Federal Register, as sought in a petition to OFR. At issue is whether and how voluntary consensus standards should be made available when cited in a regulation. ASSE said any action risks overlooking the value consensus standards play in protecting workers, ignores the positive conversation that is already changing how voluntary consensus standards are being made available, and, ultimately, threatens the ability of independent SDOs like ASSE from hosting the development of such standards.
ASSE has joined with 127 other NIOSH stakeholders to voice opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposed elimination of funding for Education and Resource Centers and the NORA Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AgFF) research program in letters to leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Committees. Congress rejected these same cuts in the FY 2012 budget, but the Administration is once again using the same justification (at page 40 of the document) in its proposal.
On March 16, ASSE President Terrie Norris and Assistant Secretary David Michaels signed a renewed Alliance agreement between ASSE and OSHA. The overall goal of the two-year Alliance is to promote best practices for reducing and preventing worker exposures to health and physical hazards. More specifically, ASSE and OSHA will continue work together to address non-English or limited English-speaking workers especially through the efforts of ASSE’s Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce (SPALW); advancing awareness of workplace safety through NAOSH Week; motor vehicle safety; and awareness of workplace safety and health for public sector employees. The achievements of the Alliance are documented on OSHA’s website at ASSE. ASSE’s press release for the renewal is at ASSE press release and OSHA’s at OSHA news release. For more information about OSHA’s Alliance Program, go to OSHA Alliance Program.
ASSE submitted a comment on an EPA proposed rule to set significant new use rules (SNURs) for chemical substances, 7 of which included carbon nanotubes. For those substances involving nanotechnology, ASSE told EPA it could not ignore established industrial hygiene and safety practice, NIOSH and its own research by not requring the hierarchy of controls to be followed in protecting workers under the SNURs. ASSE said, “An appropriate risk assessment based on the hierarchy of controls requires that engineering controls be considered first, and if deemed feasible, implemented before considering the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators, gloves and clothing. Yet, no mention is made of engineering controls in EPA’s required protections.”
In light of the criticism and complaints that have followed the OSHA’s directive rescinding the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, ASSE in a letter to Assistant Secretary David Michaels stated its support for the change in policy as a needed step forward in protecting workers. ASSE also commended OSHA for its efforts to work with residential contractors in the implementation of this policy both by extending its temporary enforcement measures (https://www.osha.gov/doc/residential_fall_protection/residential_guidance.html) and in providing extensive resources to help employers implement the policy (http://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/residentialprotection/index.html).
Adding to previous comments opposing OSHA’s Interpretation of Provisions for Feasible Administrative or Engineering Controls of Occupational Noise, ASSE suggested in a letter to Assistant Secretary David Michaels that a more valuable measure to reduce noise exposures would be lowering OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) for noise from 90 dBA to 85 dBA. At the lower PEL, however, engineering controls can become exponentially more expensive and difficult to achieve, adding to the reasons OSHA should not pursue a new economic feasibility interpretation. ASSE also urged OSHA to communicate more widely its stated practice of working cooperatively with employers to achieve incremental improvement in noise levels over reasonable periods of time.
ASSE nominated Gary Lopez to OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). Gary is a widely respected Professional Member of ASSE with strong experience in managing workplace safety and health risks in the construction industry. He is a founding member of the committee that oversaw and continues to manage the development of the ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems and, since 2005, has served as the Chair of ASSE’s Standards Development Committee, which oversees the ANSI/ASSE A10 construction standards.
In a letter to Director John Howard, ASSE commended NIOSH for the publication of its National Assessment of the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce report (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/oshworkforce/), the first look at occupational safety and health workforce issues since the Institute of Medicine’s Safe Work in the 21st Century (http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070260) study in 2000. The report addresses how SH&E professionals are educated and trained, the means by which they demonstrate professionalism, the resources available for their education and training, how their education and training meet the needs of employers who will hire them, and a better understanding of the future need for SH&E professionals as well as this nation’s ability to meet that need. ASSE said this report can serve as a foundation for determining how best to support the need for SH&E professionals over the next decade and beyond and looks forward to working with NIOSH, its other partners, and our member educators to address the variety of issues raised by this report.
In a letter to Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the White House, ASSE urged his office to do everything possible to advance OSHA rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica so that ASSE’s members can play a meaningful part in seeing that OSHA promulgates an appopriate standard. While ASSE has no position on the rulemaking at this time, the Society expressed concern that OIRA is engaged in a conversation about the rulemaking with only select stakeholders, as the OIRA meeting record indicates. ASSE said its members already know how to protect workers from silica risks far above the current standard without being overly burdensome to employers. As it stands, its members are not being given the opportunity to tell OSHA how a standard can do the same.
In a comment for the record, ASSE said it could not support proposed changes to OSHA’s reporting rules from the current requirement that employers report within 8 hours fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of 3 or more employees to 1 or more employees and to add the requirements that amputations be reported within 24 hours. ASSE said it does not believe, given OSHA’s resources and the practical difficulties employers face in reporting, that these enhanced reporting requirements will result in the kind of improved safety and better data that OSHA intends.
In the current discussion over OSHA’s efforts to advance rulemaking on an injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) standard, NIOSH Director and former Cal OSHA Chief John Howard has given presentations on California’s experience with an I2P2 standard. On July 15, Dr. Howard gave his California I2P2 presentation at the Small Business Labor Safety (OSHA/MSHA) Roundtable held by the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In August OSHA is expected to submit its proposal for a standard to the SBA for review as required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). John Howard
15 July 2011
Small Business Roundtable
Office of Advocacy
Small Business Administration
15 July 2011
Small Business Roundtable
Office of Advocacy
Small Business Administration
ASSE expressed support for MSHA’s $384.3 FY 2012 budget request in a letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders. “We believe that safety in mines will be enhanced not by ‘less MSHA’ but by ‘a better MSHA,’” the letter stated. Full funding of MSHA’s budget request will allow MSHA to provide funding for improved dust monitoring in coal mines through the purchase of continuous personal dust monitors, move forward on several regulatory initiatives particularly in the health area, and address the backlog of enforcement cases presently before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. However, ASSE expressed concern with the proposed transfer of Small Mines Office personnel to field or district offices, fearing the end of this compliance-assistance program to help small mines with safety.
In a video played first at the opening session of Safety 2011 in Chicago, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis congratulated ASSE on its 100th Anniversary, noting OSHA’s 40th Anniversary, ASSE’s alliance and the shared goal of the Department of Labor, OSHA and ASSE in helping make sure all jobs are safe jobs. Secretary Solis also commemorated ASSE in a letter, stating, “ASSE’s work over the past century has been critical to the great progress the Nation has made in workplace safety and health.”
In the 100th year of ASSE and modern occupational safety, ASSE offered leaders of the key U.S. Senate and House of Representative committees responsible for workplace safety and health oversight draft legislation to address needed reforms in federal law to help improve U.S. workplace safety and health. ASSE’s first occupational safety and health draft reform proposal Enhancing Occupational Safety and Health Protections in the 100th Year Act of 2011 is intended to help improve OSHA and NIOSH capabilities and better encourage employer responsibility for worker safety and health.
“For the past 100 years ASSE’s member occupational safety, health and environmental professionals have worked day and night in all industries to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. They have seen results, but at the same time know that more needs to and can be done,” said ASSE President Darryl C. Hill, PhD, CSP, in letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “That’s why, on this our 100th Anniversary, ASSE offers this draft legislation to build on what we have learned is missing in the way this nation oversees workplace safety and health. After 40 years of the OSH Act and other decisions made following its passage in 1970, workers should be able to rely on a thoughtful reexamination of that Act’s effectiveness, which we hope our draft legislation encourages.”
ASSE’s bill contains provisions on coverage of public sector employees; updating permissible exposure limits; advancing a risk-based regulatory approach; encouraging collaborative rulemaking; enhanced definition of competent person; encouraging OSHA consideration of voluntary consensus standards; enabling OSHA to update standards with voluntary consensus standards; relocation of NIOSH within the Department of Health and Human Services; increased criminal penalties for those responsible for safety culture in an organization; encouraging employer risk assessment through third part consultations; encouraging risk assessment through safety and health audit privilege; codification of the Voluntary Protection Program(VPP); and, expanded access to VPP for small businesses.
“Most of the ideas are those ASSE has championed over the years, and some are ideas we backed in the occupational safety and health reform debate over the last several years. You will find ideas offered by both Republicans and Democrats. If not on this 100th anniversary, which we also consider the beginning of a modern commitment to safe and healthy workplaces, when will be a better time to build on what we know can work to improve how our nation oversees occupational safety and health protections in our workplaces?”
A letter on behalf of ASSE’s members in North Carolina urges Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) to join in sponsoring the Voluntary Protection Program Act (S. 807), a bill to place OSHA’s Voluntary Protectiion Program into the Occupational Safety and Health Act, ensuring that OSHA will continue the program. The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Senator Enzi is the Ranking Member and Senators Landrieu and Hagan are members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. North Carolina members have also individually urged Senator Hagan’s support for the bill in a grass roots effort. ASSE supports S. 807 and HR 1511, the companion bill in the House of Representatives.
In a letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders, ASSE stated its support for the Administration’s FY 2012 budget request for OSHA. If adopted, the $583.4 million request would give the agency a 4.3 percent increase over OSHA’s FY 2010 budget. ASSE specifically supported increases for OSHA’s standards activities, federal compliance assistance, state plans and whistleblower programs. ASSE urged recognition of the cost to nation’s competitiveness that failure to protect workers brings, citing the recent NIOSH study that found workplace deaths between 1992 and 2002 cost the US $53 billion in societal costs.
Bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate and House to place OSHA’s Voluntary Protectiion Program (VPP) into law and ensure the program’s future has received ASSE’s support. In letters to Senators Enzi and Landrieu for S 807 and Representatives Petri and Green for HR 1511, ASSE expressed its strong support for VPP. Senator Enzi and Rep. Petri are Republicans. Senator Landrieu and Rep. Green are Democrats. “VPP is unique in encouraging employers not simply to meet regulatory standards but to take active responsibility for safety and to seek results beyond the minimum,” the letters said. ASSE also supports provisions requiring a monitoring system with specific performance goals for VPP and prohibiting payment from an employer to participate. The current Administration cut funding for VPP in its FY ’11 budget proposal for OSHA but has fully fundeded the program in its FY ’12 budget.
ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee met in Washington DC May 1-3 in conjunction with NAOSH Week for a meeting and to conduct its annual Capitol Hill Visits. Below is a schedule of visits they made and the issues discussed.
GAC Members at OSHA
[l to r] Bill Propes (TX), Mike Neason (KY), CoPA VP Tom Cecich (NC), Ron Sokol (TX), Chair Jim Thornton (VA), and Ernie Harper (ID)
|8:30 – NIOSH
Frank Hearl, Chief of Staff; John Piacentino, MD, Associate Director for Science
- ASSE support for Ag, Forestry, Fishing NORA program and ERCs in Administration’s proposed FY 12 budget
- Cooperation on risk assessment, ASSE’s evolving Risk Assessment Task Force under CoPA
- Cooperation on ASSE’s CoPA effort to ensure recognition of safety in corporate sustainability efforts
- Appreciation for NIOSH’s commitment to economic studies supporting value of safety
- ASSE involvement in NIOSH NORA Symposium July 12-13 in Cincinnati (http://www.team-psa.com/NORA2011/callforabstract.asp); NIOSH PtD Prevention through Design (PtD) Workshop August 22-24 in Washington, DC (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ptd/#workshop); and Eliminating Health and Safety Disparities at Work, September 14-15 in Chicago (http://www.aoecdata.org/conferences/healthdisparities/index.html)
- Update on NIOSH efforts in nanotechnology
|9:45 – House Education and the Workforce lead majority (Republican) staff responsible for occupational safety and health issues
- ASSE draft OSH reform bill
- ASSE support for legislation codifying VPP
- Prospects of Byrd mine safety reform bill
- Prospects of OSHA I2P2 standard setting
|10:30 – Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions lead minority (Republican) staff responsible for occupational safety and health issues
- ASSE draft OSH reform bill
- ASSE support for legislation by Chairman Enzi codifying VPP in the Senate
- Prospects of Byrd mine safety reform bill
|12:30 – House Education and the Workforce lead minority (Democrat) staff responsible for occupational safety and health issues
- ASSE draft OSH reform bill
- Combustible dust – efforts to address the issue at OSHA and in Congress
- ASSE support for legislation codifying VPP
|1:30 – CSB
Board Members Mark Griffon and John Bresland; Daniel Horowitz, Managing Director
- ASSE support for nomination of member Jerry Jones to CSB Board and possible interest of other members
- ASSE support for CSB’s FY 12 budget request
- ASSE draft OSH reform bill
- Overview of CSB investigations, including Deepwater Horizon
- Linking ASSE chapter member resources with CSB investigators – specifically with Hawaii members in Honolulu fireworks explosion investigation
|1:30 – Office of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
- ASSE support for VPP codification bill cosponsored by Senator Landrieu
- ASSE draft OSH reform bill
|3:00 – OSHA
Jordan Barab and Rich Fairfax, Deputy Assistant Secretaries; Deborah Berkowitz, Chief of Staff
- I2P2 and next steps – SBRFA process to begin in June
- ASSE draft OSH reform bill
- Administration FY ’12 budget proposal for OSHA, including increased resources for whistleblower program
- Combustible dust issue and May 13 expert panel
In the same year ASSE is celebrating its centennial year, OSHA is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. To mark this milestone, OSHA has released a video on its 40 years and announced a photo contest Picture It! Safe Workplaces for Everyone to encourage those 18 years or older to capture an image of workplace safety and health and share it with OSHA. Assistant Secretary Michaels will be helping ASSE recognize this harmonic convergence of occupational safety and health milestones at Safety 2011 in Chicago where he along with NIOSH Director John Howard will lead the plenary session of the PDC on Monday, June 13, at 2:00 pm.
ASSE stated its support for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s (CSB) FY 2012 budget request of $12.8 million in letters to Senate and House leaders of the Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. ASSE said its members valued CSB’s response to chemical incidents,investigations and the information CSB shares in its reports and recommendations. Increased investigations would provide its members greater information on how to prevent chemical explosions. At a time of significant concern over this nation’s government spending, ASSE said it is confident that these amounts are a needed investment in helping prevent costly chemical explosions that too often take worker lives, shut down productive workplaces, cost jobs and threaten the well being of communities. Not providing CSB with the resources it needs would be a shortsighted decision that fails to address this nation’s ability to be productive.
In a letter to the White House, ASSE stated its support for Jerry L. Jones, a member, to be nominated to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
ASSE submitted comments on the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Proposed Rule Pattern of Violation (PoV) intended to strengthen MSHA’s ability to find that a mine has a recurring pattern of violations requiring heightened oversight by MSHA. The comment supported the development of POV criteria, adding transparencyto the process, and expanding adjudicated enforcement actions that can be used in a POV determination. But ASSE opposed including enforcement actions that have not reached final action and any requirement that MSHA approve a mine’s safety and health program. The Proposed Rule and other information can be found at MSHA’s POV Single Source Page.
In the latest Continuing Resolution for the remainder of FY 2011, the April 11 deal that is now up for a vote in Congress nearly $40 billion is cut from the federal budget through September. EPA is cut 16%, one of the biggest percentage cuts in the whole bill, $1.6 billion less than FY 2010. However, safety and health agencies have fared well –
There’s a $49 million cut in NIOSH funding, but that is coming from $71 million NIOSH was given for FY 11 for the WTC health program. That money will be coming off its books, replaced by the program established by Congress last year, which has its own funding. For FY 2011, NIOSH needs $38.5 to begin standing up that program. The CR apparently leaves them with $22 million of the $71 million, which they can combine with some discretionary funding to get to the $38.5 million needed. However, there a .2 percent across-the-board budget cutback, which means $600,000 that will be taken from NIOSH’s budget.
From the Senate Appropriations Committee website, “The bill provides last year’s funding level of $558.6 million for OSHA. H.R. 1 would have cut $99 million or 18 percent from the agency’s budget.”
Also from Senate Approps website, “The bill provides $363.8 million, an increase of $6.5 million over last year, sufficient to continue the mine safety and appeals backlog reduction plan, carryout aggressive enforcement actions and improve MSHA’s emergency response capability. H.R. 1 would have cut MSHA by $1.5 million, denying the agency needed funds to reduce the backlog of appealed cases and continue aggressive enforcement actions targeted at mine operators with poor safety and health records.”
Senate info is at http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=9aab5122-312e-49ed-b47e-79cd63970e5e and House info at http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=285
In a letter to Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee leaders, 111 Friends of NIOSH joined together to voice opposition to proposed cuts to NIOSH’s Agricultural, Forestry and Fishing program and its support for Educational Resource Centers (ERCs) contained in the Obama Administration’s FY 2012 budget proposal.
Please join ASSE in opposing the Obama Administration’s proposed FY 2012 budget elimination of two significant NIOSH activities - the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AFF) Program and Educational Research Centers (ERCs). ASSE’s letter to leaders of Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Committees focused on the importance of these programs to ASSE members, the safety of workers and US competitiveness and the failure of the Administration to make a case for eliminating support for AFF and ERCs in its budget justification. Justification for cutting AFF support was based on a National Academies review of the program was misunderstood, according to the experts who conducted the review in their own letter to Chairman Harkin. Cutting ERC support was based on the conclusion that the “goals of the program have been met,” which ASSE refuted in its letter.
Congress needs to hear from safety and health professionals about the importance of NIOSH and these programs. As the only meaningful resource for occupational safety and health research and educational support, NIOSH deserves every ASSE member’s support. The need to support the AFF program, which supports research into keeping workers safe in jobs with some of the highest fatality and injury rates, is obvious. While it is well recognized that the ERCs do not do enough safety education and training in some members’ view, having no ERCs will not result in more safety professionals, only less.
As a first step in advocating for NIOSH AFF and the ERCs, the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Committees need to hear from you. So, especially if you one of these is your Senator or Representative, please send them a message –
But you should also contact your own Senators and Representative. You can easily find their email and office addresses by going to http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ and entering your address.
Your message can be short and simple. Best is a message in your own words, including examples from your life and practice that demonstrate personally the importance of the AFF programs and/or ERCs. But, the following sample message can be used –
Dear Senator/Representative _________________:
I am a safety and health professional who lives and works in ________________. I value the importance of the National Institute for Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH). Because NIOSH is the only federal resource for occupational safety and health research and education, it troubles me that the current Administration is proposing in its FY 2012 budget proposal to end support for two NIOSH activities – the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AFF) program and Educational Resource Centers (ERCs). Without the AFF program, research in how to save the lives in some of the most dangerous industries will stop. Without ERCs, the ability of employers to hire well prepared safety and health professionals to help protect workers will be severely harmed. Investment in safety and health education and research is an investment in our nation’s competitiveness. Please join me in opposing these proposed cuts.
If you can please share your letter with me, Dave Heidorn at email@example.com. Any questions, please let me know. Thanks for your efforts.
ASSE voiced opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposed FY 2012 budget cuts to two significant NIOSH activities - the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AFF) Program and Educational Research Centers (ERCs). The letter to Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Committees focused on the importance of these programs to ASSE members, the safety of workers and US competitiveness and the failure of the Administration to make a case for eliminating support for AFF and ERCs in its budget justification. Justification for cutting AFF support was based on a National Academies review of the program, which was misunderstood, according to the experts who conducted the review in their own letter to Chairman Harkin. Cutting ERC support was based on the conclusion that the “goals of the program have been met,” which ASSE refuted.
ASSE Nominates Nigel Ellis to ACCSH
ASSE nominated Professional Member and ASSE Fellow Nigel Ellis to serve as a member of OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). Dr. Ellis has a long and distinguished career as an SH&E professional dedicated to advancing the profession’s understanding of how to protect workers, especially as a leading authority in the field of construction and industrial fall protection.
ASSE Urges More Funding for CSB to Deal with Deepwater Investigation
ASSE has urged increased funding for the US Chemical Safety and Hazards Investigation Board (CSB) due to concern over the impact on CSB’s resources from the Congressionally requested investigation on the Deepwater Horizon explosion. In a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Dianne Feinstein, ASSE said CSB’s limited resources already make it difficult for the agency to investigate the needed number of chemical explosions. Many other chemical explosions carry as much impact in other industries as the Deepwater carried in the offshore oil and gas industry.
ASSE Urges Better Use of Consensus Standards in OSHA Slips and Falls/PPE Rulemaking
In an August 19 comment to OSHA on its proposed Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment rulemaking, ASSE urged the agency to utilize more thoroughly existing voluntary consensus standards as it develops the new rule.
ASSE said both the process and end users would be better served if standards such as ANSI/ASSE Z359 Fall Arrest Code as well as the ANSI/ASSE A1264.1-2007 Safety Requirements for Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces and Their Access; Workplace Floor, Wall and Roof Openings; and Stairs and Guardrails Systems standards were utilized in developing the OSHA rule.
ASSE Nominates Roberta Nelson Shea to NACOSH
ASSE nominated Roberta Nelson Shea to OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. As ASSE’s nominating letter to Assistant Secretary for Labor David Michaels indicates, Ms. Nelson Shea has an active career as a safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professional, an expertise in safety technology, and is an organizational leader in for-profit entities as well as volunteer-led groups like ASSE and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), among others.
ASSE Cannot Support OSH/Mine Reform Bill
ASSE has commented on a bill (HR 5663) introduced July 1, just before the July 4 holiday weekend that is being heard July 13 by the House Education and Labor Committee and possibly marked up soon after. The bill attaches key provisions of the Protecting America’s Workers Act (PAW Act; HR 2067) to Mine Act provisions in a bill. Consistent with a tradition of bipartisanship on OSH issues in the Senate, it was reported last week that Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) has decided to delay introduction of mine safety reform legislation until he can rally bipartisan support. See that report here. ASSE’s letter to Chairman George Miller (D-CA) of the Committee states:
- ASSE is concerned that this rush to markup does not address a glaring failure of the OSH Act to provide more than 8 million public sector workers with the same minimal federal occupational safety and health protections that all other workers enjoy.
- ASSE fears that some very positive contributions HR 5663 makes in OSH Act reform will be lost under the weight of opposition to Mine Act reforms that make strengthening oversight of US mines more difficult, in our members’ view.
- After negotiations that saw previous concerns with the PAW Act whistleblower provisions addressed, ASSE supports sections on Enhanced Protections from Retaliation and Prohibition of Retaliation. However, ASSE cannot agree with establishing a whistleblower private right of action. ASSE supports giving victims the opportunity to appear before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) but cannot support giving victims an opportunity to make a statement before the parties conducting settlement negotiations.
- ASSE supports provisions allowing employers to file with OSHRC a motion to stay a period for the correction of a violation designated as serious, willful, or repeated, which addresses concerns ASSE had with similar PAW Act provisions.
- ASSE does not oppose the increased levels of civil and criminal penalties proposed in this legislation if the new definition of employer under the criminal provisions is changed from “any officer or director” to “any responsible officer or director.” As it stands, though, this definition helps protect the large majority of ASSE members doing their job from being held accountable for others’ failure to address safety and health risks.
- ASSE also supports changing “wilfull” to “knowing” to determine criminal intent under an OSH Act prosecution if it is made clear “knowing” reflects both a knowledge and awareness that the hazard, actions or conditions are likely to place another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury; a knowledge and awareness that the hazard, actions, or conditions constitute a violation of a mandatory safety or health standard; and that the person had the ability to take action to address the hazard or condition and did not.
- The Mine Act reform provisions are new to the debate. ASSE supports NIOSH’s increased involvement in investigating major mine accidents but argues for more funds for NIOSH to do so. Overall, ASSE does not support key provisions in the bill. ASSE is concerned that new subpoena powers are overbroad and discourage self-audits and recording of “near misses.” We oppose making all Mine Act violations presumptively significant and substantial. ASSE urges that it be made clear that criminal prosecution for knowing violations of MSHA standards should occur only for serious injuries or worse, or for false statements or falsified documents. We are concerned that the criminalization of retaliation against whistleblowers are harsher than for knowing violations of mandatory standards. We are also concerned that increasing penalties again comes soon after 2006 MINER Act provisions, which dramatically increased contested cases and a 17,000 FHSHRC backlog.
ASSE Comments on Administration’s OSHA and MSHA Budget Proposals – Urges
Restoring VPP Funds
In a letter
to the Chairmen of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, ASSE stated
its position on the Administration’s FY 2011
budgets for OSHA and MSHA. While generally supportive, ASSE voiced strong
support for restoring funding for the Voluntary Protection Program eliminated
in the proposal. “While ASSE understands this Administration’s
purpose for a proposed $10 million dollar increase in enforcement activities
and staff, it is disheartened that the money for this effort was taken directly
from the funding for the VPP. Given what is at stake, ASSE recommends that
Congress ensure that OSHA has the necessary full set of tools to improve
fatality and illness/injury rates. Our members help employers achieve safer
and healthier workplaces through a wide range of capabilities, including
training, consultation, building relationships and enforcing tough workplace
safety rules. In their work, focusing on one method at the expense of another
never succeeds.” ASSE voiced a similar concern about the elimination
of MSHA’s Small Mines Office (SMO), which provides compliance assistance
to small mine operators.
ASSE Supports Enzi Efforts to Protect VPP –
Urges Involvement of Appropriate Competent Persons
ASSE sent a letter
to US Senate HELP Committee Chair Michael B. Enzi supporting his budget amendment
to restore FY 2011 funding for OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program
(VPP), which the Administration has proposed to cut entirely. ASSE
also expressed support for Senator Enzi’s bill (SB
3257) to set VPP into law and expand the program to more small
businesses. ASSE, though, also urged amendments to address who undertakes
an employer’s effort to meet OSHA standards and other requirements
under VPP, offering language that defines an appropriately competent person
as one “who, through experience or training, is able to identify actual
and potential hazards, understand safe work practices, and have demonstrated
expertise in establishing and managing a safety and health program.” (5.19.10)
ASSE Nominates Thornton and Davis for MACOSH
In letters to OSHA, ASSE nominated for reappointment to OSHA’s Maritime
Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH) current Chair James
Thornton, CSP, CIH, and member R.
Allan Davis. Jim Thornton works in shipbuilding industry and Allan
Davis in the fishing industry. (5.7.10)
ASSE Comments on Protecting America’s Workers Act
ASSE provided detailed comments
on the key OSHA reform legislation, the Protecting America’s Workers
Act (PAW Act) to Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House
Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, who sponsored the bill. The
comments are based both on the introduced version of the bill and proposed
amendments to the bill circulated among key stakeholders. Whether
a revised PAW Act will be reintroduced is unclear, though the recent Washington
State refinery and West Virginia mine tragedies point to heightened attention
to workplace safety issues by the Administration and Congress. Key
to ASSE’s statement is the recognition of the important role that increased
civil and criminal penalties can play in helping ensure employer commitment
to worker safety and health if employers can rely on a more clear definition
of “willful,” penalties are applied to those truly responsible
for an organization’s safety culture and OSHA’s cooperative efforts
to work with employers continues. In addition to the comment, a summary
of ASSE’s position on each PAW Act provision, a side-by-side of ASSE’s
comments with each provision, and HR
2067 are available.
ASSE Joins Safety Groups in Urging Commitment to Safety in Jobs
In a letter for
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), ASSE joined with ISEA and AIHA in urging that
jobs bill before Congress includes a commitment that any jobs created through
the appropriations process be safe jobs. Information on the bill can
be found here.
ASSE Urges US Senate OSH Leader to Support Public Sector Coverage in OSHA
In a letter to Senator
Johnny Isakson (R-GA), long a leader in occupational safety and health issues
in the U.S. Senate, ASSE urged support for provisions in OSHA reform legislation
that would provide federal-level safety and health protections for public
sector workers. Under
the Occupational Safety and Health Act, state and municipal workers in states
without their own state OSH plans are not required to provide such protections. ASSE
recently sent a similar letter to
Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), the sponsor of the Protecting America’s
Worker Act ( HR
2067), the key OSHA reform legislation, to urge her also to keep this
provision in possible substitute legislation. Achieving OSH coverage
for public sector workers has been a key ASSE government affairs goal since
ASSE began a government affairs program. Information on ASSE and member
efforts to advance public sector OSH coverage in Florida can be found here.
ASSE Comments on OSHA Combustible Dust ANPR
ASSE submitted comments on
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Combustible Dust. The comments
were developed by a Task Force of ASSE member experts in managing combustible
dust including Walt Beattie as Chair, Jeff Camplin, Ernie Harper, Gabe
Miehl, Bill Phillips, Bruce Rottner and Ken Wengert. The comment responds
to OSHA with member views on NFPA standards, the scope of a new standard,
the economic impact on small employers, and hazard mitigation. ASSE
also testified at OSHA’s December 14 informal public hearing on combustible
ASSE Supports OSHA Proposed Rule on GHS
ASSE submitted a comment
OSHA’s proposed rule to harmonize its Hazard Communication Standard with
the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
(GHS). The comment stated ASSE’s support for the goals of the proposed
rule and responded to OSHA’s request for comments on various issues. ASSE’s
comment is based on the recommendations of a GHS Task Force of ASSE members
with expertise in hazard communications and GHS. Don Garman served as
chair, and its members were Chris Gates, Jonathan Klane, Mike O’Toole,
Mark Shirley, Eric Stager and Jim Thornton. An OSHA fact sheet on the
rulemaking is here
rulemaking can be found
ASSE Testifies at OSHA Public Hearing on Combustible Dust
At a Monday, December 14 OSHA public hearing on rulemaking to advance a
new combustible dust standard, ASSE said it could support a new standard
that is no less effective than the voluntary consensus standard NFPA 654: Standard
on Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing
and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids. ASSE Federal Representative
Adele Abrams, Esq., represented the Society at the hearing. ASSE’s
statement can be found here,
and OSHA’s rulemaking notice here.
ASSE Supports Approach to Standard in Health Care Ergonomics Legislation
ASSE in a letter to
Representative John Conyers supported the general approach of a standard
proposed in his legislation (HR
2381) requiring lifting equipment to protect direct care nurses
and health care workers from ergonomic risks. ASSE said it supported
this specific approach because it is the same approach to ergonomics its
members used in protecting health care workers. But ASSE urged various
changes to the bill to ensure the best patient care, including allowing manual
lifting if needed, ensuring continuity of care when employees refuse assignment. ASSE
also urged caution in including home health care without resolving issues
of reimbursement and OSHA oversight of work in the home.
ASSE Urges Coverage of Public Sector Workers in OSHA Reform
In a letter (docx)
to Representative Lynn Woolsey, sponsor of the Protecting America’s
Workers Act (HR
2067), the key OSHA reform bill in Congress, ASSE urged inclusion of
provisions to provide coverage to the more than 8 million state and municipal
workers now without federal-level safety and health protections. Such
coverage is required only in states with federally-approved
state OSH plans.
ASSE Shares View of OSHA Nominee Michaels with Senate Leaders
ASSE said in a letter to
key U.S. Senate leaders that it looks forward to working with the current
Administration’s nominee to lead OSHA, David Michaels, if his nomination
is approved. ASSE said it agreed with views Dr. Michaels shared in
a recent article on
objectives for OSHA -- “a bold campaign to change the workplace culture
of safety” to include a workplace injury and illness prevention program
rule and a campaign to change the way the nation thinks about workplace safety.
ASSE Supports Illinois Employee Only State Plan
ASSE expressed support for an Illinois Employee Only State Plan in a comment to
OSHA on rulemaking to
provide approval for the plan. ASSE has long supported extending occupational
safety and health coverage to the 8.1 million public sector workers not covered
under federal safety and health standards. ASSE members have also championed
legislative efforts to advance OSH coverage for Florida’s
public sector workers. See also ASSE’s press
ASSE Comments on CSB Chemical Release Reporting ANPR
ASSE submitted a comment to
the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) on its Advanced
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking feedback on ideas for a
regulation on chemical release reporting. ASSE voiced concern that
a regulation should not make more difficult site managers’ responsibilities
when various reporting requirements already exist and the initial period
of time after an incident is focused on emergency response.
here for the ASSE Press Release on this issue.
ASSE Nominates Paul Adams for NACOSH
ASSE has nominated Paul S. Adams, PhD, CSP, PE, CPE, to serve on OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). Paul Adams career spans both industry and academics with particular experience in ergonomics, engineering and the evaluation of safety and health programs. He is also the former President and a current Director on the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
ASSE Says OSHA Failed to Recognize Leading Standards at Crane Hearing
ASSE expressed a variety of concerns centered on the failure of the OSHA
proposed rule Cranes and Derricks in Construction to
reference leading national voluntary consensus standards on crane safety
in testimony given
by ASSE Professional Member Matt Burkart, a crane safety expert from Southampton,
PA, a member of the A10 Safety Requirements for Construction and Demolition
Operations Standards standard committee and chair of the ASCE Construction
Site Safety Committee, at an OSHA public hearing. The testimony reflected comments ASSE
submitted in January to OSHA for the record, where ASSE requested a hearing
to address concerns that OSHA failed to reference the widely accepted A10
and other national voluntary consensus standards addressing crane and derrick
safety. ASSE did support OSHA’s general approach to ensuring that crane
operators are qualified or certified to operate the equipment covered here
but urged that certifications be accredited by the same nationally recognized
accrediting agencies that accredit organizations certifying the professional
competence of safety and health professionals. OSHA was urged to look closely
at the negotiated rulemaking process used to develop the rule to see if lessons
can be learned to help improve the negotiated rulemaking process as a way
to engage the safety and health community in rulemaking. (3.18.09)
ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee shared its suggestions for the
future of OSHA with the incoming Obama Administration’s transition
team, which is preparing a report outlining various stakeholders’ comments
and concerns about OSHA. The Committee’s conversation followed
a one-page summary
of topics prepared by ASSE for the transition team. Press
December 2nd will be the last of three meetings scheduled for the Florida
Public Task Force on Workplace Safety charged by the Florida Legislature
with “developing findings and issuing recommendations regarding innovative
ways by which the state may effectively ensure that each state department
and agency and each county government and municipality located in the state
complies” with federal OSHA standards. Leading members of the task
force have developed recommendations that outline steps the Florida legislature
can take to ensure that public employers can comply with federal OSHA standards.
The recommendations can be accessed
here (MS Word doc). ASSE urges members to support these recommendations
by submitting comments on the Florida Public Task Force on Workplace Safety
ASSE has urged OSHA to give a 90-day extension of time for submitting comments on OSHA’s Proposed Rule Cranes and Derricks in Construction published in the October 9, 2008 Federal Register. ASSE said the importance of ensuring crane and derrick safety in construction is an important safety issue for a large segment of our diverse and wide-spread membership. Providing an adequate response that reflects the wide experience and expertise of ASSE’s members is a unique challenge in the face of the Proposed Rule’s
240 pages of text and nearly 150 requests for comment. OSHA needs to build
confidence in this rulemaking by giving an adequate opportunity to comment.
ASSE Comments on MSHA Drug/Alcohol Rulemaking
ASSE submitted a comment on
MSHA’s proposed rule aimed
at achieving drug- and alcohol-free mines. While applauding MSHA for attacking
the issue proactively, ASSE urged changes in the rulemaking to avoid undercutting
existing effective substance abuse prevention programs. The proposal should
apply to coal and metal/nonmetal mines, both surface and underground. MSHA’s
intention toward independent contractors performing work unrelated to extraction
or mineral production needs clarification. Mines with more rigorous drug
and alcohol programs – including “zero tolerance” for
positive testing employees -- should be allowed to maintain those programs.
And post-accident provisions needed to avoid the “law of unintended
employees underreporting injuries because to avoid post-accident drug or
ASSE Voices Concern Over Change in NIOSH Asbestos Roadmap
ASSE provided NIOSH with a comment to its draft CIB, Asbestos Fibers and Other Elongated Mineral Particles: State of the Science and Roadmap for Research (June 2008), available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/review/public/099-A/default.html . ASSE expressed concern that the draft strayed from NIOSH’s previously stated goal of developing a unified theory of elongated particle toxicity between currently known and newly identified mineral fibers; synthetic vitreous fibers; and nanofibers. Earlier this year, ASSE provided its views on the NIOSH’s February 2007 draft Roadmap. ASSE’s comments supporting that draft can be found in the NIOSH docket at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/pdfs/NIOSH-099/0099-053107-jones_sub.pdf.
ASSE Supports Labor Department Rulemaking on Health Standards
ASSE submitted a comment to the Department of Labor on rulemaking requiring OSHA and MSHA, when developing a health standard, to add a new step to the rulemaking process by publishing an ANPRM seeking relevant scientific information, to evaluate the information received, and to post electronically that information. ASSE supports this proposal because it provides an additional opportunity for the regulated community to review and, if necessary, object to an exposure requirement that employers and SH&E professionals who they hire have responsibility for managing.
ASSE Comments on OSHA "Per-Employee" Clarification
ASSE ASSE submitted a comment on OSHA's Proposed Rule clarifying that noncompliance with its personal protective equipment (PPE) and training requirements in safety and health standards may expose an employer to "per-employee" penalties. ASSE urged that the decision to apply "per employee" violations
take into consideration an employer's overall commitment to occupational
safety and health to avoid penalties out of proportion to what can often
be technical or misunderstandings in using PPE.
ASSE Mourns Passing of Former Chair of the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
On August 29, Carolyn Merritt, former Chair of the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board passed away. ASSE President Warren Brown honored Ms. Merritt's achievements in a letter of sympathy to her family. More information and the current CSB Chair John Bresland's statement on Ms. Merritt's great success in leading CSB can be found at this link.
ASSE Submits Comment on Combustible Dust
For the record of the July 29, 2008, Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety hearing on, “Dangerous Dust – Is OSHA doing enough to protect workers?” ASSE submitted a statement urging caution in moving ahead to address hazardous dust risks legislatively without developing a deeper understanding of current OSHA standards, their enforcement by OSHA, and the approach taken through national consensus standards. ASSE agreed with the approach taken in a bill passed by the House seeking requring an OSHA standard no less effective than the NFPA 654 voluntary consensus standard but said should also address related NFPA standards and should be required within 24 months, not the 18 months required in the bill. ASSE also said the bill needs to address OSHA's inadequate inspection resources and inspector training on hazardous dust and find a way to help employers deal with 17 different OSHA standards related to hazardous dust.
ASSE Commends NIOSH for Draft Control Banding Document
In a letter to NIOSH Acting Director Christine Branche, ASSE commended NIOSH for its comprehensive review and analysis of the control banding issue, Qualitative Risk Characterization and Management of Occupational Hazards (Control Banding [CB]): A Literature Review and Critical Analysis. The draft document can be found at The draft document is posted at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/review/public/138/. ASSE’s own Position Statement on Control Banding and the Future of the HazCom Standard can be found at http://www.asse.org/professionalaffairs/positions/hazcom.php.
ASSE Argues for More Dollars for Federal Safety Agencies
In letters to Senator Tom Harkin and Representative David Obey,
who chair the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees for Labor,
HHS, Education and Related Agencies, ASSE argues for more FY 2009 funding
for OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH than that proposed in the Bush Administration's
budget so these federal safety and health agencies can carry out their
mandate to protect workers.
ASSE Urges Withdrawal of OSHA Direct Final Rule to Update OSHA Standards Based on
National Consensus Standards
In a January 14 comment, ASSE has urged OSHA to withdraw its December 14, 2007, Direct. Final Rule Updating OSHA Consensus Standards Based on National
Consensus Standards. The proposed amendments aim to eliminate “outdated consensus standards that have requirements that duplicate, or are comparable to,
the requirements specified by other OSHA rules.” This includes a specific reference to the ANSI/ASSE A10.3 standard. ASSE is concerned that this rulemaking
goes beyond the stated purpose and fails to meet the Congressional mandate that federal agencies reference voluntary consensus standards. As such, the amendments are inappropriate and, if adopted, would significantly impact the standards’ effectiveness in protecting workers from occupational safety and health risks. In it’s comment, ASSE also recognizes the statement of the Powder Actuated Tool Manufacturers' Institute (PATMI) backing ASSE’s
objection to eliminating the A10.3 reference.