Fight On to End Fit Testing Rider in DOL's 2008 Appropriation

Congress has annually attached a rider to the Department of Labor's appropriations bill that blocks OSHA from enforcing fit testing requirements of its general industry respiratory standard (29 CFR 1910.134) again tuberculosis exposures. This enforcement would mainly affect the health care industry; Republican-controlled Congresses routinely added this rider as the appropriations bill came down to the wire. Now that Democrats control the House of Representatives, AIHA's president on July 16 urged the House majority leader not to allow another rider this year. And the House Appropriations Committee did not include one when it passed DOL's 2008 appropriation July 11.

"We now hear that there may be another attempt in the fiscal year 2008 appropriations bill to prohibit OSHA from inspecting or citing employers that fail to conduct annual respirator fit testing for employees occupationally exposed to tuberculosis," Donald J. Hart, Ph.D., CIH, wrote in his July 16 letter to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. "As you consider the FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill, AIHA urges you to reject any efforts to renew the prohibition on OSHA respirator standard enforcement."

The House Appropriations Committed passed S. 1710, the 2008 appropriations bill for those agencies, on July 11. The bill as passed by the committee doesn't include the rider; it also would require OSHA to submit quarterly reports with specific timetables for safety and health standards and to issue the "employer pays for PPE" standard by November 2007, as OSHA has promised to do.

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