Posted with permission from Confined Space, a newsletter of workplace safety and labor issues.
The House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections will hold a hearing on Tuesday entitled “A More Effective and Collaborative OSHA: A View from Stakeholders.” This will be the first — and probably the only — oversight hearing held in this two-year session of Congress.
The Committee has not yet made witness names public. (Hint: not me.) Republicans will probably choose three witnesses and Democrats will be allowed to choose one. They have until 10:00 am Sunday to reveal who will testify.
NOTE: After this was posted on the Confined Space blog, Republican witnesses were identified as:
The Democratic witness will be former Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.
Nor is it clear exactly what will be discussed. But judging from who is running Congress, we can guess a few things:
- By “collaborative,” we can assume they will be promoting OSHA’s troubled Voluntary Protection Programs over enforcement. VPP had been plagued by integrity problems when it grew too fast during the Bush administration and although the Obama administration addressed most of those issue, budget restrictions kept the program from growing over the past several years. Secretary Acosta has expressed interest in growing the program again. And you will probably hear (more than once) the same tired old myths of how the Obama administration was all confrontation and no cooperation, and how OSHA standards kill jobs.
- The word “effective” has us flummoxed though. Because enforcement actually has been proven to be effective in protecting workers, while VPP has not. So maybe they’ll discuss how to make enforcement stronger and more effective? Probably not.
- And who are the “stakeholders” whose “views” they want to get? Workers, who the Occupational Safety and Health Act is designed to protect? Well, if I was a gambling man (which I am), I wouldn’t put much money on that. If I had to predict, I’d say their idea of “stakeholders” would be *a representative of the Chamber of Commerce or some other business association, a small business person who has been “persecuted” by evil OSHA inspectors, and probably a representative from a VPP company (maybe even a union member) who will extol the virtues of VPP.
Stay tuned and mark the time and date on your calendar.