Agency chief Dr. David Michaels speaking to the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission Annual Judicial Conference in Charleston, SC this past Tuesday, September 14:

“DOL and OSHA remain committed to an aggressive regulatory agenda, and we have made progress in recent months:
  • In June the direct final rule on "hexchrome" became effective, requiring employers to notify their workers of all hexavalent chromium exposures.
  • In July we issued a long-awaited new rule addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction, replacing a standard that was four decades old.
  • We are moving ahead on revising the Hazard Communication Standard to make it consistent with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
  • We are pressing forward to develop standards addressing hazardous exposure to crystalline silica, beryllium, combustible dust, and food flavorings containing diacetyl.

    • “Most importantly, this summer we held a series of stakeholder meetings in New Jersey, Texas, California and Washington, D.C., to gather information that will be used to propose a rule requiring employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program tailored to their workplaces' hazards.

      “Essentially, through this common sense proposal, we will be asking employers to find the safety and health hazards present in their facilities that might injure or kill workers - and then fix those hazards.

      “We are working to move the burden of responsibility for worker safety and health from OSHA enforcement to employers. We have to, because OSHA cannot write standards for every possible hazard in every workplace.

      “We have occupational exposure standards for a relatively small percentage of chemicals commonly used in American workplaces, and most of these are based on out-of-date science. At best, we can work on updating only a handful of standards a year. However, while we are working with other agencies and stakeholders to explore long-term solutions, we need to protect workers who are in danger now.”