Safety and OSHA News

Obama vs. Romney: What would happen to OSHA?

Did you know that OSHA is mentioned in both the Democratic and Republican national platforms? There’s a lot of disagreement about how to handle the agency, but there’s one thing both parties appear to agree on, too.

You’ll find the first clue on the differences between the two parties on the role OSHA would take by noticing which section of each platform mentions the federal safety agency.

For the Republicans, OSHA comes under “Regulatory Reform: The Key to Economic Growth.”

It’s under “Standing Up for Workers” for the Democrats.

“Regulations must be drafted and implemented to balance legitimate public safety or consumer protection goals and job creation,” the GOP document states. “Constructive regulation should be a helpful guide, not a punitive threat.”

OSHA’s current regulatory agenda is “overreaching,” according to the party of Mitt Romney, and Republicans in the White House and Congress would “rein in” the agency.

Not only would the Republicans rein in OSHA, they would create “a moratorium on the development of any new major and costly regulations until a Republican Administration reviews existing rules.”

Democrats say that, under their watch, OSHA would “continue to adopt and enforce comprehensive safety standards.”

What new OSHA rules might be enacted in a second term for President Obama?  A new permissible exposure level for silica has been in the works for years. OSHA administrator David Michaels says requiring companies to have their own Injury and Illness Prevention Programs is a top priority for him.

The Democratic party platform also calls for a “fight against the exploitative practice of employers fraudulently misclassifying workers as independent contractors.” One reason some businesses do that is to limit their workers’ compensation insurance premiums, which creates an unfair business advantage when those companies bid for work against employers that do have the required amount of comp coverage.

They actually agree on something?

Yes, the Rs and Ds do actually share one statement pertaining to OSHA in their platforms.

According to the Republicans, rules should “have a sound basis in science.”

The Democrats agree, noting, “regulations should be based on sound science.”

What do you think of the parties’ platform statements regarding OSHA and business regulations? What is the best thing the federal government can do for businesses and workers? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  • matt

    I think that this article is definately filled with bias. I will be ending my subscription.

  • Asadfasg

    You’ve just lost a subscriber.

  • William A. Happold, Phd.

    .
    OSHA Democratic platform Vs. Republican platform is a simple remedy; Democrats have been losing jobs and supporting higher energy cost. Republicans are looking at expansion of jobs and cheaper “domestic” energy.

    The Democrats “Four more years of ‘green energy’” will continue to waste money for an industry that has been non-productive job wise and has thrown money away. Our country has become dependent on unfriendly countries to supply oil.

    The Republicans plan to increase domestic energy jobs which will increase employment and lower cost of living for all households. This platform will increase small business growth.

    Without employment/jobs, there will be no need for OSHA.

  • Dave Scott, Safety Mgr

    ” What is the best thing the federal government can do for businesses and workers?” How about reducing the bloated size of gov. When the Democrats stop looking at agencies like OSHA as money making machines and get out of the way of business then we can make some progress to getting Americans back to work…

  • Tom

    To the previous commentators – Seriously?

    Two in a huff simple call it biased without example why and blurt about ending a free subscription and the other talks of energy policy?

    I think the article was a fair one-over-the-world of something most informed readers of this site already knew. What I learned was I don’t need to scroll down to read the comments – lol.

  • Cathy

    Biased toward whom? I sounded like a fair recounting of each party’s platform to me. I’m happy to hear they are both wanting “sound science” to be the basis for regulation. Any other approach is just political posturing which we have way too much of on both sides already!

  • Alice

    Tom that is so right on! The article uses the words that the parties themselves use; the definition of unbiased. Sometimes people don’t like to see their own truths.

  • Jim

    Agreed, the article was a waste of time, but the comments were astounding.

    Really Mr. Happold? Are you that blinded by political rhetoric? Domestic oil production actually is slightly higher now than under the Bush administration which is quite astounding but true.

    http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2012/apr/09/barack-obama/barack-obama-ad-says-us-oil-production-eight-year-/

    And green energy has been non-productive jobwise? Tell that to the several local companies in my area which have been making wind turbines and my engineer friend who is designing state of the art solar panel rack systems that withstand almost anything the weather can throw at them but are extremely light weight. No, “green energy” as you put it doesn’t create jobs. Oh yes, and the Chinese solar panel companies considering setting up plants in the US won’t bring any jobs either. Let’s just ditch it all and keep using coal for the majority of our power.

  • GammaRae

    Deregulation does NOT kill jobs. Repealing sensible regulation kills PEOPLE. Sick to death of the “profits before people” mentality of the right wing.

  • Bonita, Safety Manager

    Thank you Safety News Alert for always trying to enlighten and educate your readership audience. My (yes free) subscription stands! I agree with the posts by Tom and Cathy – fair recounting of the party platforms and something those informed (who have been paying attention to BOTH platforms) already know.

  • Phyllis R. Furlong, RN

    Doesn’t sound like biased reporting. It seems that the parties’ names, “Democratic” or “Republican” cannot be mentioned without people getting in a huff. What they don’t realize is that it is not the other party that is the enemy, but one infiltrating our shores, who hate Americans and are outnumbering us 8:1 in their Fertiity (Birth) Rate. True, Dr. Happold, everyone is missing the big picture that there will be very few businesses left in this country in a few short decades, and that will be our demise. I already see the end of America, as we oncce knew it.

  • Robert K.

    Tom, OSHA does go overboard on things such as fining a company because an employee was cleaning windows with a window cleaner without an MSDS for the window cleaner. The employee that was using it knew the OSHA regulation regarding the window cleaner and stated it to the OSHA inspector, because the employee was correct, the quantity of window cleaner possessed did not require an MSDS but the Inspector did not like someone else telling him about OSHA regulation and there is a regulation giving Inspectors the power to penalize anything they see fit.

    It is obvious that the Republican Party caters to the corporations. Such as Bush Jr. demanding a bill that included allowing a loophole for companies to work employees for longer hours without having to pay them overtime.

    Tom, the Republican Politicians are Fascists. Before and during WWII they were covertly supporting Nazi Germany. We had over 300 companies here in the US supplying goods to the Nazi’s during WWII, with their dealings being masked by Wall Street and goods routed through Argentina to Portugal and Spain.

    It’s pretty sleazy for companies to find loopholes to get around paying high workman’s comp premiums that inevitably screws over some employee that was not a contributor to the incident that caused an injury but winds up getting injured from it. That was a loop hole created by Republicans, so shame on them. Romney will cater to the Corporations because that is the group he most closely identifies with.

    I’m not supporting the Democrats either. Obama’s statement “you did not build that” is a slap in the face, it’s a huge blunder on his part, along with his attack on medical benefits to military personnel, another huge blunder, along with the Democratic party pandering to those that are collecting checks from the government the government with unfounded scare tactics by exploiting what the other party has says and twisting it around. Obama is disconnected from the American people, his…

  • intersted

    Matt

    I re-read the article to see if I missed something. I am very curious what you see is biased in this article. Please elucidate.

  • John

    Nothing new or earth shattering news wise here…ome comments entertaining to say the least. We are obligated to vote, make decisions, act based on our social and moral compass. What is and always has been disturbing is when a governmental agency levies ridiculous penalties in the name of “compliance”. Sure when human life is lost or threatened, justification can be made; but for the sake of self perpetuation, fines and penalties are crippling to business and the economy. Even companies with outstanding safety who get $750 fines for the wrong toilet seat is way over the top. Who benefits?

  • Guest

    These platforms are meaningless. Writing them is simply an exercise in checking off boxes for various constituencies. For argument’s sake let’s assume that they actually follow through with what is stated in the platforms.

    Fatalities were up in 2010 from 2009 after being revised upward. The early data on 2011 shows that there has been a small reduction from 2010, but as always, the number will be revised up.

    So what is the answer to the increasing fatalities for workplaces over the last 2 years? This current administration has reprioritized funding from compliance assistance to enforcement, and we have seen the results. Anyone remember “There is a new Sheriff in town”? We can see how effective that has been.

    The GOP platform states: “Constructive regulation should be a helpful guide, not a punitive threat.” That sounds like making the shift back to cooperative relationships and compliance assistance and the end of the “New Sheriff in Town”/”Publicly Shame companies into compliance” era.

    The DNC platform states: “continue to adopt and enforce comprehensive safety standards.” I think that amounts to continuing with the current plan, which we have seen the recent results of. If enforcement was so great we would have seen an improvement, we haven’t.

    For fun I looked at the Libertarian Platform which does not mention OSHA specifically but does state:
    “Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval.”

  • Guest

    Another point. The headline for this article is silly. “Obama vs-Romney What would happen to OSHA?”
    Then the actual article goes on to talk about each individual party’s platform, with no mention of either candidate in the bulk of the article. It is not as if Obama and Romney are individually responsible for every item in their platforms anyways. Perhaps listing the top of the ticket was a way to get people to click over for the article or receive hits on Google. I think that may be part of the reason the politics have come out in the comment section. It is definitely silly season.

  • Alice

    Geez, Robert K, Obama’s ‘built it’ comment was to point out that no one is an island, that one person cannot build without support from others.

    OSHA could use more inspectors doing a better job of giving recommendations and a timeline when a violation is found, rather than jumping to a fine first. Slashing regulations so big business can cheat employees out of a safe work environment is not the purpose of OSHA.

  • Robert K.

    Alice, that maybe what he meant but it was not how it came out and left him wide open for exploitation and the same applies to Romney’s “47%” which he was referring to everyone that is going to vote Democrat no matter what.

    My whole point being it doesn’t matter which of those clowns sits in the Oval Office for the next 4 years, our circumstances aren’t going to change either way.

  • Bruce

    Wow, WE GOT TROLLS! Sad how some over react.

  • Jeff Ackerman

    Some on both sides are needed any govermant agensies should be a help not a hinderances, the states should have more control over worker safety with out the help of Federal goverment. The state I live in does not allow contract works and indavidual comanies can control this with their own contracts, this needs to be done to protect the workers and our own companies. Protecting the workers should be everybodies first priority.

  • PayingMyTaxesOnTime

    Robert K. There is no regulation giving Inspectors the power to penalize anything they see fit. It just doesn’t work that way, in fact the compliance officer doesn’t fine anyone, they simply submit alleged violations back to the AD who will then send out a notice of violation. And the company then has the opportunity to respond with the facts as they see them, mitigation plans, etc. I would be interested in documentation of a fine for an MSDS violation for window cleaner, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

  • Jimmie

    When it comes to politics everyone takes it so personal. lets just look at the facts. Is it the workers and managers that help keep the workeplace safe. Or is it the job of the government? Who do you trust. We all need to take responsibility. Does anyone remember what that means?

  • Tammy

    Well I think many know what responsibility is but the some do not take it on that is why we need OSHA. Real science is an issue when it comes to the politics of it all. We need to look past the political BS and remember why it was established. It was to ensure workers had a safe and healthy work environment. People still die every day in the workplace close to 5,000 due to incidents and 10 times that number because of injuries and illnesses. I really feel for anyone in the injury and illness category, I just watched my brother suffer one day and it was enough to last a lifetime. This is not about politics it is about lives, family and community. Why not ask someone who has really had to deal with the system instead of spouting off comments with no real facts yourself. No one thinks for themselves, try having an open mind for once and listen to both sides then make an informed decision.
    Everyone has some preconceived idea that it is a terrible mistake when someone is killed at work but it is a preventable incident. These incidents can leave families destitute because they cannot hold the employer responsible if they are cutting corners (because of workers comp, which didn’t even cover all my brother’s funeral expenses). Every family I have encountered has two things in mind…they do not want another family to endure what they have and feel guilty because they had no real clue how bad thing really are. No company is cited unless they find a regulation that is not being followed so there is no reason to freak out about OSHA regulations. Heck there is still no Combustible dust regulation and my brother was killed in 2003, and maybe takes a look at how many regulations there have been put in place lately. Humm, Just one regulation since the loss of my brother. OSHA is not beating down anyone. Really, they are doing no more than they have for years and maybe even less if you consider most offices are understaffed and keep in mind it would take over 100…

  • Tammy

    years for OSHA to hit every single workplace. So the only companies that even get considered are high risks companies, complaints, a death (which some they chose not to) and if there were three or more injured in one incident.

  • Carolyn Snider

    With all due respect to both parties, it troubles me that the Workplace Victims or their families are not mentioned in this article. What are the candidates position? What will each candidate do, if elected, to ensure and enforce safer working conditions for the men and women that are out working hard to provide for their families, yet fall victim to a senseless workplace accident? This is a real problem that requires real and urgent attention. Families need concrete assurance and sound answers. Many workplace accidents are preventable, and before I vote for ANYONE, I must be assured that the candidate has a strong platform on this issue. I lost my 24 year old son-in-law May 21, 2012. He met an untimely demise do to a 100% preventable Workforce accident. OSHA rules and regulations must be addressed in our current political Presidential campaign. The victims are real, leaving behind devastated families. What are the Democrats and Republicans planning to do to make the Workforce environment a safe place? One should not go to work, only to lose their life in the process!!

  • Swami

    Alice: “OSHA could use more inspectors doing a better job of giving recommendations and a timeline when a violation is found, rather than jumping to a fine first.”

    This is brilliant. With a “we’ll help you fix it” strategy, the government could be actually aiding instead of hindering the economy… only….

    As with many other enforcement agencies, OSHA’s principle purpose has become fine generation.

    They’d never go for this, unless they could institute something like mandatory consulting fees.

  • Robert K.

    I just want to point out that the fines that are awarded by OSHA is where OSHA gets their money to pay their salaries. Same applies to the fees and fines that are awarded by the Department of Motor Vehicles. That is why they are so liberal in awarding fines.

  • Robert K.

    Tammy, you are incorrect in OSHA only inspecting the high risk companies. OSHA goes after the companies with the deepest pockets.

  • Tammy

    Swami you are flat out wrong the fines do not go to OSHA and not sure where you even got that. And Robert i never said they only hit high risk companies. But for you to say they hit only those with deap pockets well that is your opinion. Aslo the average fine is only 2,000 and i am pretty sure that will not brake any company.

  • Jason B

    @Robert K., you are incorrect. OSHA monies go into general coffers. Also, my company does not have deep pockets nor is it deemed high risk… yet we were inspected this year.

  • Robert K.

    Tammy,

    I got my information from a former OSHA Accident Investigator during training for Train the Trainer Forklift Operator Safety Program. So my opinion is shared by a Safety Professional from OSHA.

    About the comment concerning “Deep Pockets” OSHA does not have the manpower to go after all the companies so they go after those that can afford the fines, unless there is a accident that requires OSHA investigation or someone making a Whistle Blower call. A few years ago a Grant was Authorized to OSHA so they could expand their work force and be able to do more random inspections because the were consumed with too many Whistle Blower calls to be able to do anything else.

    And you did use the word “Only.”

  • Robert K.

    Jason B.

    What brought them to your door step? A dissatisfied employee maybe?

    And unlike Tammy, I did not use the word “Only” in my comment.

  • alecfinn

    Geeezzzz
    I lived with a person who was destroyed by carelessness both a union and the companies management it happened before OSHA was able to enforce much at all. Also there were no enforceable guidelines for the performance of the job just as there were no guidelines for workday/workweek. What would have saved a life and huge medical expense was a face mask that costs less that 1 cents a use and changing A/C filters costing approximately $5.00 now back then it would have been less than half in addition to increasing the air exchange in the room(there wasn’t any). From this lack of ………Caring and enforcement a person’s lungs and health were destroyed.

    Over the period of years treatment went from a few pills twice a day to 26 medications 4 times a day 24 hours oxygen therapy 2 IV medications not to mention pain control for intense 24 hour a day pain.
    It took over 10 years to get support from the agencies that are supposed to help us when we get sick or injured from work and are American Citizens (agencies we pay taxes and social security to in case something happens to us). As it was we had to make do with one salary and had to get legal representation in court to get the benefits that are supposed to be ours, never mind the depression that person and myself had as we tried to live. A-lot of the depression came from a) I do not want to be on public assistance b) I am born here why does my government not care about me when I have paid my taxes and worked all my life now I am crippled and needing help and cannot get it.

    When the benefits were won they only went back 2 years and the lawyers look a good portion before we saw any money at all. Before all this we had liquidated all our pension funds sold all our investments and were one step from living on the street.

    All these companies and folk that are screaming that OSHA and other regulatory agencies are killing America need to take a good look at why the regulations came into being. If all businesses…

  • Donna E. Keil

    I don’t think the article was long enough for too much bias. It stated both sides’ views on the subject/problem. Over the last 5 years (minimum) I’ve learned that you can pretty much count on the Democrats saying wonderful things, but not doing any of it. As for the Republicans? I still have some hope, but not much. OSHA, EPA, IRS, etc have all been given very big sticks and marching orders to go out and beat us to death (with regulations, rules and penalties, of course).

  • Robert K.

    You’re right Donna.

    And yes each of those agencies work independently of the Federal Government in the making of laws and executing them and their own Judicial system for enforcement. After dealing with them you can appeal to a higher court and then it’s only a matter if the regulation meets Constitutionality.

  • Mr.Kin

    If OSHA is not supported directly or vicariously through the fines they implement, and they are about helping business not generating revenue, then why did they publicly state that they will be reducing their available consultations and their training classes, and increasing inspectors? Sure sounds like ANOTHER case of “you’re not writing enough fines to justify yourselves, step it up”.

  • Dave B

    Jimmie wrote: Is it the workers and managers that help keep the workplace safe. Or is it the job of the government? Who do you trust? We all need to take responsibility.
    The responsibility is joint; management has to do its part. The reason the OSHA Act was signed by Nixon, a republican is corporations and management were not doing their part of providing a safe work place. Corporate Management has proven over and over again that they will do anything, kill at times if there is a buck in it for Wall Street. Corporate greed has been documented many times, and as a society the only way to force these entities to be responsible is using the big stick of government regulation, fines and jail time. The only reason some of us have a safe place to work is the rule of law, not man’s good will towards his brother.