Good Monday morning,
OSHA received $558 million in fiscal year 2010. President Obama proposed a fiscal 2011 OSHA budget of $574 million. The House Appropriations Subcommittee has approved $580 million for 2011. In the Senate, the full Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an OSHA budget for 2011 in the amount of a little more than $574 million, nearly identical to what the President proposed. Thank you Aaron Trippler, Mr. Inside, the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s government affairs guru, for providing the numbers. Aaron’s fearless forecast: bet the Senate numbers will be closer to the actual dollars appropriated over what the House is considering.
MSHA / OSHA REFORM LEGISLATION
Again, the inside analysis from Aaron: Following the Upper Big Branch mine fatalities it was obvious Congress would address mine safety and health issues. It was also clear that Congress would be hard-pressed to enact a measure to reform MSHA and a separate measure to reform OSHA (the Protecting America’s Worker Act - PAWA). So, one bill was introduced that would reform both agencies. Most of this measure addressed changes to the MSH Act but several of the original sections of the PAWA were included. Noticeably absent from the OSHA portion was the section that would have expanded OSHA coverage to those public employees not now covered by OSHA. This wasn’t unexpected because of the cost associated with this expanded coverage.
Following hearings in the House, the full committee voted to approve the bill and send it to the full House for a vote. But they added some things and deleted some things. There was some talk the House would vote on this measure prior to the summer recess but that didn’t happen.
What’s next? It is likely the House will return from recess and approve this MSHA/OSHA bill.
Chances are slim the bill will make it out of the Senate. Why? Time is running out. Plus some Senate Democrats who are signaling their intention to negotiate removal of the OSHA reform measures within this bill. If that occurs they may move a stand-alone MSHA bill forward.
In the meantime, two Democratic Senators have now introduced a bill in the Senate that is nearly identical to the measure approved by the House Committee. Republicans will attempt to remove the OSHA portion if this bill moves forward but they are being very careful not to look as though they oppose reform to MSHA standards.
Says Aaron: even if these bills are not enacted in this session of Congress you can bet they will reappear in early January.
OSHA’S TORRID PACE
It is becoming more and more obvious, according to Aaron, that under boss Dr. David Michaels OSHA is working at a pace unheard of for years. Dr. Michaels has friends in high places helping him: solid support from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; savvy OSHA and Capitol Hill experience courtesy of OSHA deputy Jordan Barab; and a chief of staff who keeps the trains running on time, Deb Berkowitz. OSHA hasn’t had this kind of coordinated leadership in years.
INJURY AND ILLNESS PREVENTION PROGRAM (I2P2)
Dr. Michaels’ numero uno priority. OSHA has concluded a series of stakeholder meetings on this issue. According to Mr. Trippler, the agency has already announced it will bypass the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and will instead move directly to a Small Business Review Panel. After that they will propose a rule, seek OMB review, conduct public hearings and then issue a final rule. Word is OSHA has publicly stated they will not be proposing any rule for at least 18-24 months, according to Aaron.
GLOBALLY HARMONIZED SYSTEM (GHS)
OSHA continues work on a final GHS rule. No word on when this might occur, according to Mr. Inside. No word either on whether or not there is enough opposition that lawsuits may be filed when the final rule is announced.
OSHA is creeping ahead on this one. Stakeholder meetings have concluded and OSHA hopes to present a proposed rule to a small business review panel by April of 2011, according to Aaron. This is not an easy standard to write.
MSD/OSHA 300 LOG
The rule returning the musculoskeletal disorder or the “ergonomics” column to the OSHA 300 Log is moving ahead. The final rule has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review and OSHA announced it will not be sending the rule to a small business panel for review, according to Aaron. OSHA hopes to finalize the rule this month. Lawsuits will be filed opposing the rule, based on the belief this is OSHA’s backdoor way of discovering ergo problems, leading to ergo inspections using the General Duty Clause, and de-facto ergo standards-setting, according to opponents in the business community.