July 20, 1999

The Honorable Robert E. Andrews
C/O Mr. Edgar Ho, Legislative Director
2439 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3001


Representative Andrews:

The purpose of this letter from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), is to offer our support of H.R.776 which amends the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to provide for coverage of employees of states and political subdivisions of states. Since you have received significant amounts of correspondence/material from us in the past we will skip a Society background statement, and enclose an ASSE Fact Sheet as an attachment.

Enclosed is our comprehensive statement addressing the safety and health legislation introduced during the Spring, 1999. We offered the following position on S.650, Federal Employees Safety Enhancement Act which is sponsored by Senators Wellstone and Kennedy:

    The consensus of the Society is to support S.650 as our position is that all Americans are entitled to work in a safe and healthful workplace regardless of whether they are public sector or private sector employees. In fact, we think it is ironic that after almost thirty (30) years since enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA Act), there are still a significant number of U.S. workers not afforded an equal level of protection.

    Our one criticism of such legislation continues to be why are federal employees being given such protection and not all public sector employees. We believe that the bill should be amended to include all public sector employees. We are aware that this would include a significant number of additional employees, but the Society maintains that this is the correct course of action. As a result, and if appropriate, ASSE would also like to offer the following amendment to the legislation:

    U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29USC, 652 [5] )

      The term "employer" means a person engaged in a business affecting commerce who has employees. This also includes but does not all agencies, entities, and representatives of the United States government and or any other state or political subdivision of a state.

We suggest the S.650 amendment is also appropriate for H.R.776 in that it provides OSHA coverage for all public sector employees and not just those at the state level. This coverage will provide enhanced safety and health on the worksite for potentially up to 20% of the nation's workforce. While we strongly endorse this extension of coverage it would also be appropriate to include a plan in the legislative report language which allows for a phased in approach. This would empower OSHA to more efficiently use its resources and allow for reasonable adjustments to this greater level of coverage.

ASSE has made a conscientious decision to comment on all safety and health related legislation. We believe that only by taking such positions can safety and health professionals be assured that the national focus on occupational safety and health is maintained.

We thank you for your attention to this matter, and if there are any questions or concerns with these positions please feel free to contact the Society.


Frank H. Perry, CSP, P.E.
Society President, 1999-2000

Copy To:          ASSE Board of Directors
                        ASSE Council on Professional Affairs
                        ASSE Governmental Affairs Committee
                        ASSE Contact List



Click here to go back to the ASSE Correspondance, Statement, and Testimony page.