Does OSHA work for working people? No way, says David Michaels — the man President Obama will nominate to run the agency.
Michaels, a professor at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, detailed his views in Congressional testimony two years ago.
To paraphrase, he saw the agency as weak, unmotivated, understaffed, heavily impeded and generally ineffective.
Here are a few excerpts, which clearly signal his views on recordkeeping, ergonomics, rulemaking and the General Duty Clause, among other topics:
- “Preventable work related injuries and illnesses … are unacceptably high. Furthermore, the true incidence of these conditions is far higher than reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
- OSHA enforcement does not appear to be effective in further reducing injury rates. … Statistical analyses indicate that (any reported) decrease can be attributable to changes in OSHA recordkeeping rules.
- “For most hazardous chemicals, OSHA’s standards are either inadequate or totally absent. One could write a book about the hazards that OSHA has failed to regulate adequately.”
- “The primary blame (for OSHA’s failure to issue appropriate health standards) rests in a system that makes OSHA standard setting inordinately difficult and resource-intensive.”
- “OSHA has abandoned the general duty clause. It is time for the agency to start using it again.”
- “Ergonomic injuries cost employers $15-20 billion annually in workers’ compensation costs alone, yet this number one workplace safety and health problem is not even mentioned on OSHA’s most recent regulatory agenda.”
- “OSHA doesn’t have the staff to work on more than one or two standards at a time, and … each standard takes years to complete. Unless things change radically, only a handful of the thousands of chemicals in daily use in American workplaces will ever be the subject of an OSHA standard.”
There’s no question that OSHA will change radically if Michaels is approved by the Senate and moves his agenda forward — an aggressive approach that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and interim OSHA head Jordan Barab appear to have already set in motion.
Do you expect OSHA to make your job tougher in the coming years? Tell us what you think in the Comment Box below.