Brace yourself. The Occupational Safety and Health Act stands a better chance now of being seriously amended than at any time since it was first written in 1970. How so? The move by Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democratic Party combined with what seems to be the probable court-confirmed victory of Al Franken to take his seat on the Democratic side of the Senate would give the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, plus a majority in the House and of course a Democrat in the White House.
For the 11th consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has launched its annual "Stay Out-Stay Alive" public safety campaign to warn outdoor enthusiasts - especially children - about the dangers of playing on mine property, according to an MSHA press statement.
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), hundreds of billions of federal dollars will be disseminated to employers across the country for various infrastructure and industrial growth projects. These will include major construction activity as well as the development and expansion of existing and new technologies, according to an OSHA press release.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on April 28 announced that OSHA will convene a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel May 5 on a draft proposed rule on occupational exposure to diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl.
American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Warren K. Brown, CSP, ARM, CSHM, of Dearborn, Ohio, testified on the “strides OSHA has made over the years, its positive impact and issues it faces” at the April 28 Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Policy Committee Congressional hearing on “Introducing Meaningful Incentives for Safe Workplaces,” according to an ASSE press release.
Celeste Monforton, an assistant research professor in the Department of Environmental
and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health &
Health Services, and chair of the Occupational Health & Safety Section of the American Public Health Association, offered a number of thoughts and ideas, shared by many OSHA activists, for introducing new incentives for safe workplaces, the title of a Senate hearing held April 28.
At a House hearing April 28, Lawrence Halprin, an attorney with the law firm of Keller and Heckman, LLP, provided a decidedly opposing view to the rhetoric of House Democrats and the AFL-CIO’s Peg Seminario on the need to significantly strengthen OSHA penalties.
At a House hearing on April 28, AFL-CIO Director of Safety and Health Peg Seminario outlined a 12-plan to put real “teeth” into OSHA enforcement, as she described. With an administration and Labor Secretary sympathetic to union concerns and grievances, you can be sure Seminario’s views are echoing in the Department of Labor. Acting OSHA chief Jordan Barab’s former boss on Capitol Hill, Rep.George Miller (D-CA), sponsored the April 28 hearing and introduced legislation the previous week to beef up OSHA enforcement. Barab has been quoted in internal OSHA emails as vowing to recharge OSHA enforcement and reinvigorate the agency.
Following last week’s introduction of H.R. 2067, The Protecting America’s Workers Act, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing April 28 on whether OSHA laws ensure that employers who fail to protect their workers are adequately penalized and deterred from committing future violations.
With a friendly administration in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress, unions are pushing hard for changes in how the federal government researches and reports annual injury and illnesses.