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Dr. David Michaels at NSC 2011 Congress & Expo

OSHA at the barricades

oshaOK, they have not erected barricades in DC yet. But the partisan fighting is wicked and will only worsen as the 2012 election nears.  The GOP has already placed a rider on one funding bill that stipulates OSHA cannot receive funds for working on the Injury and Illness Prevention Program. The General Accounting Office (GAO) has two OSHA investigations on its plate: Republicans want to know the effectiveness of enforcement; Democrats want to know why it takes so long to issue OSHA standards.

Dr. David Michaels, the OSHA chief, was on the same panel featuring NIOSH’s Dr. Howard. Dr. Michaels was not wearing a helmet and flak jacket. He needn’t had worried, the room was two-thirds empty (a clue of what’s hot and not). He spent his time basically spinning for OSHA, arguing regs don’t kill jobs but save them, that OSHA historically has accomplished much, that no one should fear OSHA ramming through the I2P2 standard; it takes years and years to set a standard, he said.

It’s Dr. Michaels’ fate to head OSHA at one of those times when an OSHA issue, like ergonomics in the 1990s, because a symbol in a larger political brawl pitting those wanting less government and those seeing societal needs for government.  History goes round and around.

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