During the national meeting of the American Society of Safety Engineers last week in Baltimore,ISHNspoke to a safety and health consultant who said, “The new OSHA is manna from heaven. Don’t quote me on that.”
She went on to say: “OSHA can’t seem to say no to all the requests for action, especially coming from organized labor.”
So you have the recently proposed standard to prevent slips, trips and falls on same-level walking and working surfaces that stretches more than 200 pages. That standard languished on OSHA regulatory calendar for decades it seems.
OSHA is also scheduled to hold a meeting on what to do about updating hundreds of permissible exposure limits (PELs) based on science from the 1950s and 60s.
And stakeholder meetings are being conducted to update and streamline how OSHA collects injury and illness recordkeeping data, and how the agency proposes to set requirements for injury and illness prevention programs, alternately known in Washington as I2P2 and the “find and fix” hazards standard.
OSHA is being led by a team at the top with strong ties to organized labor: OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels, deputy Jordan Barab, and chief of staff Deb Berkowitz. Plus, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis comes from a family where both parents were union members. So the agency is obviously receptive to union issues. And unions have more than enough issues. Call it pent up demand for OSHA action that festered during the Bush 43 years, and even going back to the Clinton administration. The agency was led by a process-minded organization man du ring Clinton’s first term, Joe Dear, who wanted to reinvent OSHA as more of a customer-friendly agency. Not exactly what unions had in mind for OSHA under a Democratic presidency.
Now OSHA is making weekly headlines with six-figure fines, including a series of big-ticket citations against several U.S Postal Service offices.