OSHA Update: Sequester Impacts, PELs RFP

Public health and IH summer interns aren’t being hired this year because the agency can’t pay them, Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said Tuesday.

MONTREAL -- The federal sequester has had a “significant” but not devastating impact on OSHA, Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, said during a Tuesday morning AIHce 2013 discussion with a predecessor at the agency, John Henshaw, CIH.

“It’s significant,” Michaels said when asked by Henshaw how the across-the-board federal budget cuts have affected OSHA. “Most obvious to the people at this meeting – we’d normally send 35-40 people to this meeting. We sent less than 10 people to this meeting … only people who had to be here. That’s a huge loss for us.”

He said he decided early on not to furlough OSHA employees, mentioning that EPA is doing an agency-wide furlough this Friday. While OSHA has not cut enforcement or services to small businesses, consultation funds, VPP, and state funds have been hurt, Michaels said.

“I think not being able to come to meetings like this will really set us back,” he said later. He said OSHA was unable to hire public health and IH students as summer interns this year because it can’t pay them.

Michaels said OSHA will publish a request for proposals in the next few months asking for input on how it can update the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). He urged the industrial hygiene community to weigh in when the RFP is published. “How should we go about addressing this, given that we have a system that doesn’t really work?” he asked.

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