The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) sent a letter yesterday to members of the U.S. House of Representatives in response to discussions that there may once again be an attempt to add a rider to the House fiscal year 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill regarding OSHA’s enforcement of respiratory protection requirements for tuberculosis. The appropriations bill is scheduled to hit the floor this week.

The House Appropriations Committee defeated an amendment July 11 that would have blocked a rule requiring annual testing of respirators that protect against tuberculosis. Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) tried to reinstate this amendment to eliminate the fit requirement, says AIHA.

Bill S. 1710 as passed by the committee last week doesn't include the rider. The bill also would require OSHA to submit quarterly reports with specific timetables for safety and health standards and to issue the employer-pays-for-PPE standard by November 2007, as OSHA has said it will do.

“It’s important that OSHA is not restricted in doing its mission of protecting workers’ health and safety,” said AIHA President Donald J. Hart, PhD, CIH. “Allowing enforcement of the General Industry Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134) will support this mission.”

AIHA opposes any attempt to stop OSHA from enforcing annual fit testing for tuberculosis because it would put workers at an unnecessary risk of contracting the disease, particularly those in the healthcare industry.