With Washington’s inability to address occupational safety and health issues, let alone anything else, I see several concerns and solutions in 2015, as 2014 is a lost cause.

1) I don’t see anything happening in 2015, or 2016 for that matter.  Some say that may be a good thing!

2) OSHA has major issues that need to be addressed – silica, injury and illness prevention program, beryllium, recordkeeping, outdated permissible exposure limits, etc.  But it is becoming more and more difficult to complete action on any of these issues.  If OSHA hopes to remain “relevant” I believe the agency must narrow its effort to one or two major issues and sit down with both industry and labor at the beginning of the process.

3) The lead in occupational safety and health, in my opinion, is rapidly transferring to the states.  With half of the states operating their own state plans I see the activity in these states, and others for that matter, as increasing each and every year.  A few examples –

a. Safe patient handling.  More than a dozen states have addressed this issue, or are addressing this issue, through regulatory and/or legislative efforts

b. Hazardous materials.  A look at only two – methamphetamine laboratories and mold remediation are good examples.  Again, more than a dozen states involved in each of these issues.

The federal government has become ineffective in addressing existing and future occupational safety and health issues.  Part of the problem is the process; part of the problem is adequate resources.  Many will say this is a good thing; however no one should be pleased with the number of injuries and fatalities that currently exist.

The solution is hard to nail down. I believe the states will hold the key to addressing these needs in the future.  States can move things along at a quicker pace as well as address very specific issues.

Unless occupational safety and health again becomes something that policymakers and others believe is an important issue, we will continue to see stagnation on all fronts except the states.