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Labor official: Time to rev up standards-setting

OSHAPeg Seminario, longtime director of health and safety for the AFL-CIO, told ISHN in an exclusive day after the election interview, “We don’t buy at all the claim that regulations kill jobs. Quite the opposite, according to recent research.”

She is also not buying the notion that OSHA operates now in a post-regulatory era where standards-setting is impossible due to the ease in which business groups can just say no.

Nor does she buy one takeaway from election night: the public does not want large government or government intervention, except in emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy. “The public wants a government that works on its behalf, not on behalf of special interest groups,” says Seminario.

Seminario call the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) a “critical issue” that must move forward. She says she “certainly hopes” an I2P2 proposal will be issued in the next 6-12 months.

The AFL-CIO health and safety director also would like to see standards action on silica, combustible dust, infectious diseases, updating the permissible exposure limits (PELs) and stronger whistleblower protections.

“Silica is not rocket science,” she says. “It’s water and ventilation. The equipment exists now to control silica exposures."

She sums up: After eight years of Bush administration anti-regulatory policies, the dark ages for labor, OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels has righted the ship and has it heading in the right direction. That certainly includes stronger enforcement, with more violations and higher penalties, which Seminario expects to continue.

Now, after four years of turning the OSHA ship around, Seminario believes the next four years should be spent tackling the issues mention above. She believes the economy is improving and will continue to do so in 2013, making it easier to engage in various standards-setting projects.

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