International Safety Equipment Association President Daniel K. Shipp

ISEA Hopes for Consensus on New OSH Approach

More agreement is evident among some of the major players in workplace safety and health that the Obama administration's arrival presents a real opportunity to approach safety and health in a new, more productive way. ORC Worldwide Senior Vice President Frank White's Breaking the Cycle white paper proposed this on the eve of Barack Obama's victory in November 2008, and now the International Safety Equipment Association, the trade association for safety equipment manufacturers, has followed suit with a similar position statement. ISEA President Daniel K. Shipp said having a new team take over OSHA and the rest of the federal safety agencies is the opportunity, and he hopes the administation can organize a national conference to move forward.

"We stole generously from Frank [White] and also from some of the things that John Howard said at our Fall Meeting," Shipp said. "Maybe this is the time for everybody to get together and say, 'Maybe there's a better way.' " He said all stakeholders should be at the table -- including the professional associations, unions, and employer groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All have an interest in better data, giving small businesses the tools they need to manage safety and health effectively, and moving away from a system too driven by litigation, Shipp said.

The ISEA statement is a single page written for the Obama transition team working on safety and health issues, and ISEA may follow up with specific recommendations, Shipp said. The statement lists five recommendations and says in part, "ISEA believes the time is right for a fundamental reexamination of occupational safety and health regulation. Work today is not the same as it was when OSHA was born in the early 70s, and worker health and safety needs to recognize advances in technology and changing demographics, as well as different management approaches and worker attitudes."

The five recommendations are:

1. Adopt risk assessment and control.
2. Take the lead to develop a new consensus on OH&S.
3. Data/metrics and analysis -- use leading-indicator data from NIOSH and other sources and test programs for their effect on improving safety and health.
4. Collaboration and cooperation -- commit to working with USDA, DoD, DOE, DHS, Justice, DOT, EPA, and NIOSH, and adopt a systems approach to OSH that is "broadly applicable to workers in those agencies and the industries and organizations they represent."
5. National consensus standards within OSHA standards -- find a method to adopt national consensus standards with going through notice and comment rulemaking.

ISEA would be glad to play a role in working with NAM and the Chamber to assure them the process will benefit their members, Shipp said.

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