Don't Dismantle OSHA: AIHA

The American Industrial Hygiene Association®'s new white paper suggesting directions for the agency's next five years is also an endorsement of its mandate.

INDIANAPOLIS -- A new AIHA white paper titled "Perspective on the Role of OSHA in Advancing Occupational Safety and Health for the Nation" offers suggested directions for OSHA's next five years, a time when shrinking budgets and a hostile Congress may make the agency's job even tougher than it currently is.

Still, the agency's mission remains unfinished, and it should continue to enforce and also continue working cooperatively to further occupational safety and health, according to the paper. AIHA's leadership says in the accompanying position statement, which was released with the white paper June 19 during AIHce 2012, "There is a continuing need for OSHA."

The white paper says OSHA should have primary authority for all safety and health issues in workplaces it regulates, and it calls for improved coordination among agencies to prevent regulatory conflicts. The third point in the document says the OSHA standard-setting process needs to be reformed, a point on which safety professionals almost universally agree –- but accomplishing it has proved impossible since OSHA's creation in 1971.

The document says AIHA supports amending the OSH Act to extend coverage to all workers and their workplaces, both public and private, and also extending it to protect young workers and farmworkers. AIHA also says in the paper that OSHA's penalties should be amended so they are at least as stringent as EPA penalties for violating environmental laws.

The documents have been sent to OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels, and AIHA Government Affairs Director Aaron Trippler said they will be submitted for consideration to the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates this fall. Full texts of the position statement and white paper are available at http://www.aiha.org/news-pubs/govtaffairs/Documents/COMPLETE_whitepaper.pdf.

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