NACOSH Presentation
Presented by Thomas F. Bresnahan, CSPv Deputy Executive Director
September 22, 1999
Washington, DC


"Good Morning."

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of NACOSH, for the opportunity to speak to you here today. My name is Tom Bresnahan, and it is my honor to speak for and represent the 33,000 members of the American Society of Safety Engineers where I am Deputy Executive Director, providing strategic planning in the area of voluntary national consensus standards. For the past four (4) years, I also served as chairman of the ANSI Safety and Health Standards Board, including chair of the ANSI-OSHA Coordinating Committee, an issue I'll return to later.

Rather than use my time describing ASSE in great length, let me, for such detail, refer you to the Fact Sheet and other descriptive documents we provided Joanne Goddell. In the Fact Sheet, you will note ASSE's standards activities. Specifically, we are the secretariat of currently eight (8) American National Standards Committees, which were just reaccredited with high marks, making the Society the largest holder of safety/health standards projects. This involvement goes back to 1921 with the secretariat of A14 Ladder Standards, which also makes ASSE an ANSI charter secretariat. In addition, we have over forty (40) safety professionals/ASSE representatives serving on various ANSI, NFPA, ASME, and ASTM committees.

In the area of ASSE-OSHA interactions, ASSE participates very intensively - 80/85% of our governmental affairs activities are OSHA-related. This commitment of resources does not really necessitate OSHA staff contacting the Society during its rule-making process. OSHA is where ASSE lives and works. Generally, the ASSE input to the process has been positively acted upon by incorporation ranging from our comments on the abatement rule to the industrial truck regulation. If there are public hearings, ASSE will, at least, be present and, if warranted, will provide input to the deliberations.

Answering the question of OSHA staff activity in the ASSE, we are pleased to say a current Board member, Jack Vetter, handled OSHA Consultation Programs in Region V, Jim Lapping is a member of the Council on Professional Affairs, and several serve as officers at the chapter and regional levels of the Society. To appreciate this last point, there are 145 Chapters and 8 Regions.

The ASSE relationship with the agency, in all of its venues, has been a very positive one. But, of course, we are, from time to time, on various issues, going to disagree and critique its positions based, not on guestimation or conjecture, but upon sound technology, good science, and the empirical data of membership input.

Concerning improvement of this relationship, let me suggest a couple of possibilities, namely,

  • Reestablishment of the OSHA Office of Professional Affairs or other name of this former office wherein the professional societies and associations had an official entrée to the agency
  • uding this office in the standards development process of the agency
  • forming a neg-reg committee or standards advisory committee, include nominees from the professional societies and associations
  • reg or standards advisory committees should have nominees from the affected NCS committees. For example, the ASSE, as secretariat of Z359 on Fall Protection, offered candidates to the Steel Erection Committee without success. If the protocols for organizing such committees need changing to achieve this recommendation, we urge doing so.
In line with the theme of this dialogue, "How to Work Together More Effectively," the ASSE offers the following recommendations:
  • With the knowledge that legislative mandates now preclude simple adoption by OSHA of the National Consensus Standards, despite the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (Morella amendment provisions), we suggest a multi-part approach:
    1. OSHA reference and keep current its citation of ANSI/NC standards
    2. OSHA use ANSI/NC standards to model draft regulations
    3. The agency meet with other executive branch agencies with similar legislative mandates to ascertain how these agencies use the NCSs in its regulations and in implementing the provisions of the Morella amendment.
    4. The agency implement, on a trial basis, the Watchman proposal or the ASSE view of what he said at the ASSE February, 1999 symposium, namely, OSHA agrees to put an ANSI/NC standard of OSHA's choosing into quasi-forceT (i.e., the regulated community to follow it but no citations) T for, let's say, three (3) years while ANSI, OSHA and the regulated community evaluate how it works in the real world and then have an APA governed review of the results before it is formally enacted, all of which may offer significant advantages over the system today.
    5. The agency develop a paper setting forth its capabilities under current statutes wherein its use of NCSs is established, thereby clarifying, for all parties, expectations in this arena of the agency's responsibilities.

  • Addressing the second part of the OMB Circular A119, not Use but Participation in NC Standards development, the ASSE urges appointment of OSHA representatives who are qualified professionals, preferably from the national staff, and given unfettered and significant support to serve and participate on NCS Committees, including service as an officer of the committee or subcommittee. Before OSHA, there was an Office of Safety/Bureau of Labor Standards where such notables as Floyd Van Atta served as secretary of the A39 Window Cleaning standard along with Tom Seymour (a contemporary name for most of you), Stan Butcher served on the M28Quarry Operations committee, Eddie March served on the MH9 Longshoring committee, John Proctor served on the B11 Machine Tools and B15 Mechanical Safeguarding committee. And, the list of these notables goes on until OSHA arrived. Please understand, I make only an observation, not a criticism, as there are some notable exceptions where the agency service is exemplar and can be used as a model. Happily for the ASSE Z490 Standards Committee, the OSHA representative from the Training Institute, Anthony Towey, has provided us with a view of the standard, which becomes a valuable road map toward developing the standards. We, the NCS developers, need the agency's input and, yes, even a formal critique, along the lines Tony Towey has provided for the Z490 Standards Committee, Best Practices in S/H/E Training.
Later today, you are going to hear a report from Dr. Fine, NIOSH, about Hazard Surveillance Systems. I also serve on this Task Force, but the point is, the NC Standards can be a vehicle in factoring, promoting, and advancing surveillance techniques. Let me explain this last point by showing you the A14 Ladder Standards In-Depth Injury Investigation Form, which an employer or anyone can use to obtain a snap-shot of ladder injuries from which appropriate countermeasures can be offered. The ASSE, as secretariat of the Z87 Eye and Face Protection and A1264.2 Slip Prevention on Walking/Working Surfaces Committee is developing and will include in these AN Standards these Bi-Level Accident Investigation Forms. Accordingly, we encourage the agency to assist the NCS community in creating such forms/documents, which will feed into the NIOSH surveillance efforts.

And, right here is where an answer to the question, "Does your organization sponsor any occupational safety and health studies that could be of use to OSHA in its standards setting process?" has been PARTIALLY provided. Besides Bi-Level In-Depth Investigations, the ASSE, through its Foundation, has and continues to develop data from its research efforts. Let me share with you these studies accordingly:

  • Eye and face protection by Dr. Paul Vinger, Tufts University.
Rather than a recitation, I will stop and provide you a list of Foundation research projects. For the record, we will, on a formal and regular basis, submit these studies to the Asst. Secretary of Labor upon finalization.
  • Another show-and-tell item, besides Bi-Level Forms, is a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Standards Office of Safety in 1968, which lists all of the 50 States' safety and health occupational standards. The agency, because it has the capability and surveying techniques already in place, needs to update this study. We urge the update as it will assist the NCS community to see where it can develop needed standards. In fact, it may help OSHA, supplemented by NIOSH surveillance data, develop needed standards.
I mentioned earlier the ANSI-OSHA Coordinating Committee, which has, for all practical purposes, been disbanded. We support ANSI's proposal to establish, in its place, a high-level liaison group from the agency and the ANSI/NC community. The agency needs to have, on this group, its Directors of the various standards offices and maybe the Director of Policy

The last issue, ASSE's role in OSHA standards development, is posed prospectively. To this end, we believe that the just-given recommendations spell out the Society's views of where we see our role going, namely, the ASSE wishes to play a significant role with OSHA in the implementation of these proposals, if it takes them or others on.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the ASSE view of "how we can work together more effectively."


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