The new interim head of OSHA has said the federal government needs to take a leadership role in workplace safety and health, and in the last eight years the agency has been a failure when it comes to creating new standards.
Jordan Barab made those comments last fall at the National Safety Council (NSC) annual conference in a session on the future of OSHA.
Barab leaves his post as Senior Labor Policy Advisor to the House Committee on Education and Labor. He worked with the committee’s chairman, Rep. George Miller (D-CA).
Barab will eventually become the No. 2 person at OSHA, but for the time being will be acting administrator which doesn’t require Congressional approval.
Among Barab’s other comments at the NSC session last fall, he:
- gave OSHA good marks on compliance assistance to companies, but questioned whether that should be the agency’s main focus
- questioned whether the federal government has a good handle on counting workplace injuries and fatalities
- called for OSHA to be “well staffed” and for those staffers to be better trained, saying one of its most important resources is people
- said there needs to be more focus on chemical standards, noting that some of the science for current permissible exposure limits (PELs) dates back to the 1960s, and
- supported OSHA penalties that “need to be a real disincentive” to businesses that ignore employee safety and health.
Before Barab took his job with the U.S. House, he wrote a blog, Confined Space. Although there have been no new entries since 2007, you can read his previous posts, which include many of his thoughts on workplace safety and health, here.