Monday, September 20, 2004

OSHA: Black Hole of Government

Calling OSHA the "black hole of government," a new OMB Watch report, The Bush Regulatory Record: A Pattern of Failure, accuses the workplace safety agency of withdrawing crucial workplace health and safety priorities or allowing them to languish on the regulatory agenda.
After withdrawing most of its identified priorities in December 2001 with one repeated excuse—“OSHA is withdrawing this entry from the agenda at this time due to resource constraints and other priorities”—OSHA has failed to identify the “other priorities” that warrant abandoning recognized workplace health and safety problems.
The report examines four agencies that are particularly important to the public interest: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and finds, not surprisingly, that
This administration is failing to give the public the protections we deserve. It continues to abandon work on documented public health, safety, and environmental problems. Instead of identifying other priorities for serving the public, this administration is doing nothing. It cannot meet even short-term benchmarks for action, and it is allowing proposals for addressing long-identified needs to languish on its regulatory agenda. Finally, what little this administration has accomplished is not strong enough to meet the public’s needs but, instead, is weakened at the behest of industry interests.
The report cites 24 items on OSHA's regulatory agenda that it has withdrawn, including one to protect workers from exposure to tuberculosis In the first half of 2004 it failed to advance 75 percent of items scheduled for action. It also eliminated data collection on musculoskeletal disorders.

Of course, anyone who reads Confined Space regularly knows that, but for the other 290 million people in the U.S., there's lots be learned here. And like many reports issued over the past several years concerning the Bush administration's failure to protect the public health, safety, and environment, this report didn't get much initial press, but will provide great documentation when the press gets interested again.

So spread it around.