ISHN interviewed OSHA chief John Henshaw in his Washington office on October 18th. Here's how he addressed OSHA's standards priorities, updating permissible exposure limits, and ANSI's voluntary safety and health management system standard.

Henshaw: "We are obviously vigorously pursuing our regulatory agenda. We have and we'll continue to generate standards. The reg agenda spells it out. Crystalline silica is on there. There are other specific compounds like glycol ethers and chromium. There are some new items on the agenda like cranes. (We're) trying to bring a host of standards up to date. How can you get people to pay attention to OSHA standards if half of them are irrelevant?

"I recognize that the PELs need to be updated. Clearly, they need to be updated. Whether this group (a coalition of business, labor and association groups) will be successful or not, I don't know. (They're) moving in the right direction, talking to people on Capitol Hill who can take action. I certainly welcome continued conversations with them and see what we can do.

"I haven't read the latest draft on what ANSI (is) doing, so I can't tell you whether I like it or not versus something else. I can tell you in a general sense that management systems do work. My biggest fear with any kind of voluntary standard is that. . . it doesn't allow flexibility, and it begins to isolate people. To those who already have the capital to invest in these kinds of very fancy management systems, they do it. The ones who don't are left out and they don't have any guidance."