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OSHA tries to fend off job-killer rep (2/15)

February 15, 2011
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On Capitol Hill today the Republican House majority went after OSHA as the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing whose title said it all: “Investigating OSHA’s Regulatory Agenda and Its Impact on Job Creation.”

As in past years, OSHA is a convenient poster child for the sins of all regulators when Congress, particularly the GOP, goes off on one of its periodic anti-regulation campaigns.

OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels, who was not invited to the hearing, issued a statement saying, “The Labor Department is focused on doing everything possible to support the creation of good, safe jobs.”

If Michaels sounds a bit desperate, it could his exasperation after taking a month of beatings from friend and foe alike for withdrawing two regulatory proposals — one that would have required employers to install noise controls instead of issuing ear plugs in many situations, and another that would have required employers to separately list ergonomic-related injuries on their OSHA logs.

Imagine the uproar if these proposals had gone forward instead of backward. Even their withdrawal did not stop witnesses at today’s hearing, including a representative of U.S. Chamber of Commerce and another from the Chamber- and National Association of Manufacturers-sponsored Coalition for Workplace Safety, from reciting pages of prepared testimony on the damage that would have been done if OSHA had proceeded with the two plans.

Said Michaels: “Despite concerns about the effect of regulation on American business, there is clear evidence that OSHA’s commonsense regulations have made working conditions in this country today far safer than 40 years ago when the agency was created, while at the same time protecting American jobs. The truth is that OSHA standards don’t kill jobs. They stop jobs from killing workers. OSHA standards don’t just prevent worker injuries and illnesses. They also drive technological innovation, making industries more competitive.

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