Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Magazine Finds OSHA 'Chemically Challenged'

OSHA's inaction is even getting to be too much for normally sober occupational health and safety journals. Jerry Laws, editor of Occupational Safety and Health magazine notes that
On Feb. 2, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board formally notified OSHA that it won't quietly accept the cooperative, anti-regulation approach OSHA favors. (I'll get angry letters from some readers over this statement, so watch our magazine's Letters page in upcoming issues. Here's my response: What other description fits an agency that scraps its own proposed regulations on tuberculosis, employer-paid PPE, and a musculoskeletal disorders column on the recordkeeping form, to name a few examples, and instead stays busy signing "alliance" agreements and lowering the bar so it can pad the ranks of its Voluntary Protection Program?)
You may remember that in January, the CSB found that OSHA's non-response to their recommendation that the agency revise its Process Safety Management standard to include reactive chemicals to be "unacceptable.

Noting that OSHA had also been dinged by the New York Times at the end of last year, Laws was unimpressed with OSHA director John Henshaws response to the CSB determination:
Henshaw had a quick answer ready when The Times focused on his agency's weak enforcement in fatality cases. He quickly answered [CSB Chairman Carolyn] Merritt, as well: "Our comprehensive approach to address hazards is a sound one. . . . We welcome the opportunity to continue to work with the Board and would consider further information they provide us." He could answer even faster by simply telling the truth: We aren't in the business of writing new rules.
And sometimes I think Confined Space is the only publication out there that sees OSHA for what it's really become. Welcome to the crowd, Jerry.