AIHA's Trippler Expects an OSHA Reform Bill in New Congress

The newest "Happenings" e-newsletter from Aaron Trippler, AIHA's government affairs director, also says Sen. Frank Lautenberg will reintroduce his Toxic Substances Control Act reform bill.

Five or six names are being circulated as possible successors to Hilda Solis as secretary of Labor during President Obama's second term, according to the Jan. 16 "Happenings" e-newsletter written by Aaron Trippler, AIHA's government affairs director and a longtime keen observer of regulatory and legislative activity on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country. Trippler reported 300 bills already have been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 113th Congress, while the U.S. Senate has not yet allowed bills to be introduced.

As for replacing Solis, Trippler writes it may be fairly low on Obama's list of new cabinet appointees he must appoint; as well, the criticism that he's overlooking female and minority candidates may affect the timing of the Labor secretary nomination. Either way, it could affect the OSHA assistant secretary, but Trippler predicts Dr. David Michaels will remain in that position.

He also predicted these bills will be filed and bear watching:

  • HR 170, which would require "site-controlling employers" to keep track of all workplace injuries to all workers at the site, including workers employed by subcontractors. Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, has introduced this bill in the past four sessions of Congress. It is not likely to be enacted, Trippler predicts.
  • A Toxic Substances Control Act reform bill will again be introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. The goal is to provide EPA with greater authority to limit the use of chemicals if the agency decides they are dangerous to human health or the environment. The bill passed in committee during the 112th Congress but never came to the floor of the Senate for a full vote. "The issue will again be very controversial and difficult to enact," Trippler reports.
  • Voluntary Protection Program legislation. "No word yet on whether or not a bipartisan group of Senators will reintroduce legislation that would codify the Voluntary Protection Program, essentially granting this program permanent continuation. A similar bill has been introduced in the last two sessions of Congress but has not been enacted. Observers say there is a good chance the bill will be reintroduced," he writes.
  • More than a dozen regulatory reform bills will be introduced.
  • OSHA reform legilation. "While no one has yet come forward with this legislation we expect an OSHA reform measure to be introduced that will entail several reform measures, including expansion of OSHA coverage, a look at criminal penalties, victims' rights, etc.," he writes.

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