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Friday, March 5, 2010

OSHA is Listening

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is soliciting suggestions and comments concerning workplace safety. OSHA's concern is that, "No one should have to be injured or killed for a paycheck."

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held a public meeting, "OSHA Listens," to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency. The meeting was scheduled for Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C.

"Public involvement in the government's activities is a priority for this administration and is important to enhancing OSHA efforts to protect the safety and health of workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "This public meeting gives us an opportunity to hear your ideas, suggestions and comments on key issues facing this agency."

Some of the questions OSHA invited public input on included:
  1. What can the agency do to enhance and encourage the efforts of employers, workers and unions to identify and address workplace hazards?
  2. What are the most important emerging or unaddressed health and safety issues in the workplace, and what can OSHA do to address these?
  3. How can the agency improve its efforts to engage stakeholders in programs and initiatives?
  4. What specific actions can the agency take to enhance the voice of workers in the workplace, particularly workers who are hard to reach, do not have ready access to information about hazards or their rights, or are afraid to exercise their rights?
  5. Are there additional measures to improve the effectiveness of the agency's current compliance assistance efforts and the on site consultation program, to ensure that small businesses have the information needed to provide safe workplaces?
  6. Given the length and difficulty of the current OSHA rulemaking process, and given the need for new standards that will protect workers from unaddressed, inadequately addressed and emerging hazards, are there policies and procedures that will decrease the time to issue final standards so that OSHA may implement needed protections in a timely manner?
  7. As we continue to progress through a new information age vastly different from the environment in which OSHA was created, what new mechanisms or tools can the agency use to more effectively reach high risk employees and employers with training, education and outreach? What is OSHA doing now that may no longer be necessary?
  8. Are there indicators, other than worksite injuries and illness logs, that OSHA can use to enhance resource targeting?
  9. In the late 1980s, OSHA and its stakeholders worked together to update the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) (exposure limits for hazardous substances; most adopted in 1971), but the effort was unsuccessful. Should updating the PELs be a priority for the agency? Are there suggestions for ways to update the PELs, or other ways to control workplace chemical exposures?
After a written comment period closes on March 30, 2010, a link to the Meeting Transcript will be posted on the Internet. Comments received through March 3rd are now available on line.

Meeting Agenda

9 a.m.  Welcome and Introductory Comments
   David Michaels, Assistant Secretary, OSHA
   Deborah Berkowitz, Chief of Staff, OSHA
9:10-9:50 Panel 1
   Tonya Ford, Uncle killed at ADM facility in 2009
   Katherine Rodriguez, Father killed at British Petroleum in 2004
   Wanda Morillo, Husband killed in a NJ industrial explosion in 2005
   Celeste Monforton, American Public Health Association
   Linda Reinstein, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
9:50-10:30 Panel 2
   Marc Freedman, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
   Keith Smith, National Association of Manufacturers
   Frank White, ORC
   Stephen Sandherr, Association of General Contractors
10:30-10:40 Break
10:40-11:20 Panel 3
   Workers United
   Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO
   Scott Schneider, Laborers' Health and Safety Fund
   Mike Wright, United Steel Workers
11:20-11:50 Panel 4
   Chris Patton, American Society for Safety Engineers
   Katharine Kirkland, Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics
   Aaron Trippler, American Industrial Hygiene Association
11:50-12:30 Panel 5
   Kathleen McPhaul, American Public Health Association, Univ. of Maryland Nursing
   Hestor Lipscomb, Duke University Medical School
   Rick Neitzel, National Hearing Conservation Association
   Matt Schudtz, University of Maryland Law School
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:00 Panel 6
   Karen Harned, Nat'l Federation of Independent Business, Small Business Legal Center
   Cynthia Hilton, Institute of Makers of Explosives
   Thomas Slavin, Navistar, Inc.
2:00-2:30 Panel 7
   Andrew Youpel, Brandenburg Industrial Service Company
   Robert Matuga, National Association of Home Builders
   Tom Broderick, Construction Safety Council
2:30-3:00  Panel 8
   Don Villarejo, California Institute for Rural Studies
   Luzdary Giraldo, NY Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
   Roger Cook/Peter Dooley, Western NY Council on Occupational Safety and Health
3:00-3:40 Panel 9
   Rick Engler, NJ Work Environmental Council
   Tom O'Connor, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health
   Norman Pflanz, Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law
   Chris Trahan, Building and Construction Trades Department
3:40-3:50 Break
3:50-4:10 Panel 10
   John Masarick, Independent Electrical Contractors
   Davis Layne, VPPPA
4:10-4:40 Panel 11
   Bruce Lapham, Valcourt Building Services, LC
   Scott A. Mugno, FedEx Express
   Marc Kolanz, Brush Wellman Inc.
4:40-5:10 Panel 12
   Pamela Vossenas, Unite Here! International
   John Morawetz, International Chemical Workers Union Council
   Dinkar Mokadam, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
5:10-5:50 Panel 13
   Rick Inclima, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
   Jason Zuckerman, Employment Law Group
   Richard Renner, National Whistleblowers Center
   Tim Sharp, Alaska Review Board & Laborer's Council
Click here to read more about OSHA and workers' compensation.