Tuesday, February 24, 2004

DOE Backtracks on Contractor Safety Policy

I've been kind of hard on the Department of Energy (DOE) today (see below), so I want to be the first to compliment them on being brave enough to admit when they've made a mistake.

Earlier this month I wrote about DOE's new policy to allow contractors to develop their own voluntary safety and health programs. It seems now that DOE has seen the error of its ways:
The Energy Department said Monday that it was suspending its proposal to have the contractors who run nuclear weapons plants take charge of planning for how to ensure worker safety.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an oversight body created by Congress, had complained that the proposal could wipe out 50 years of rule making.

Spencer Abraham, the energy secretary, said in a letter to the chairman of the board that the department would work with the board to redraft the rule and that "any final rule will reflect my policy that safety standards will not be written by contractors." Mr. Abraham said the department would continue to seek a new rule that safety plans be reviewed by its headquarters, not field offices.
Apology accepted.