American Industrial Hygiene Association Government Affairs Director Aaron Trippler reports in his “Happenings from the Hill” that Congress is unlikely to focus on occupational health and safety issues in post-healthcare legislative maneuvering.

“First on the list is financial regulatory reform,” writes Trippler. “Add to this a debate over cap and trade, the economy, jobs and the 2011 budget. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for other issues. “

The coming mid-term elections also cast a large shadow over what Congress will and will not take on. “There is talk House leadership has told their members they will not have to vote on any additional controversial issues during the remainder of this session of Congress in order to provide them some protection for the November election,” writes Trippler.

The showpiece occupational health and safety bill, the Protecting American Workers Act (PAWA), has been introduced in both the House and Senate, but the only activity is taking place in the House, according to Trippler.

“In the last month, the House held a hearing to discuss the section of the bill that would raise civil and criminal penalties for employers who are found in violation of OSHA rules and regulations. This hearing was held to discuss proposed changes to the introduced version. While there was considerable debate on some of these changes, the bigger question is whether or not they will actually reintroduce a new version of this bill or simply propose amendments to the existing bill. Either way, the chances of this legislation being enacted grow slimmer by the day. In my view there are just way too many things in this bill that will draw opposition,” writers Trippler.