Thought Leadership

We’re in the post-regulatory era, friends

October 3, 2012
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I don't think I2P2, the must-vaunted Injury and Illness Prevention Program hailed by OSHA as its numerous uno standards priority, has snowball's chance of passing. That’s if the Big O gets his second term. If it’s Mitt Romney, OSHA goes back to issues a lot of alliance announcement and pumping up VPP tape

I2P2 has sent chills down the spine of many a safety professional for the past three years, since OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels started heralding it. Here is Tom Lawrence, a consultant in Missouri and long-time ASSE member:

“The issue is that there are likely only 100,000 -150,000 sites having a safety staff. The 7.3 million other sites will not be able to sustain requirements for a written safety program. So the compliance folks will have party issuing citations -- like they have in California and still no safety results. Or, like California, they will dumb down the safety program requirements - -which is the essence of our professional value add.

Compliance officers at DC direction will be revising our professional’s safety programs. That will reinforce the image that the safety profession is mostly about the government.

“Interpretations will be constantly be changing the I2P2 "requirements"-- without safety professionals and the rest of the regulated community having the opportunity to comment -- going around the protections in the OSHAct and the Administrative Procedures Act. More meaningless government-designed additions for safety professionals to have to keep up with.

I say, rest easy, Tom. Get a good night’s sleep.  Your worst nightmare isn’t going to happen.

Read both the Dem and GOP convention platforms re regulations. They could have been written by the same person. Bottom line: no reg the scope and impact of I2P2 is of interest to either party.

Reg reviews and pullbacks / relief are the order of the political day for both parties. Jobs, jobs, jobs and a healthy economy trump standards-setting every time out.

We are in the post-reg era I believe, given the economy and concern over business stability.

Any regs to emerge in U.S. in coming years will come from globalization, ala the Global Harmonization Standard for hazcom. They will be forced on the U.S., not home-brewed.

The only other way you will see new safety and health regs is via court mandates and deadlines, most likely pushed by unions. This may end up being the route to a final rule for silica, beryllium and combustible dust. Still, those court orders are years off.

There is simply and clearly no willpower above the reg agencies themselves (OSHA, EPA, DOT, DOE, FDA) for setting new regs.

All the politico talk is of trimming back regulators. Really, what are the odds of an agency like OSHA being created by a Congress full of Tea Partiers in 2012?

In the place of federal mandates, watch for a move toward voluntary regs, ala ANSI, ASTM, and NFPA, for things like PPE and fire protection. Keep track of these often low-profile voluntary requirements, because in a liability case attorneys will grill employers on if they are aware of the state of the art in various workplace safety areas – which will be represented not by OSHA standards, increasingly behind the times – but by these voluntary groups.


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