Efforts to tighten contractor safety by the Department of Energy have won the endorsement of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Proposed regulations would require contractors responsible for a DOE workplace to make sure that it is free from recognized hazards likely to cause injury or death. Contractors would also be responsible for ensuring that work is performed in accordance with the contractor's safety and health program, which would have to be approved by DOE.

"If the review and approval process stipulated in the proposed rule is rigorous and conducted by qualified staff, there would be a significant incentive for contractors to improve their programs over past performance," notes AIHA President Thomas G. Grumbles, CIH.

AIHA offered several suggestions that it believes would improve the proposal:

  • The addition of a strong policy statement supporting the use of safety and health programs and compliance with national standards;

  • Requirements for technically qualified personnel to design, implement and improve safety and health protection programs;

  • An explicit statement that conformance to applicable OSHA standards and case law interpretations should be mandated as a minimum requirement; and

  • Requirements for all occupational injuries and illnesses to be reported to allow monitoring of program performance, effectiveness and improvement.