Federal agencies

American Society of Safety Engineers offers ‘reform blueprint’ to OSHA

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Park Ridge, IL – The American Society of Safety Engineers has issued a set of recommendations to OSHA to “emphasize the management of risk, sharpen the agency’s focus on productive policies, and fill legislative and regulatory gaps that limit OSHA’s ability to better protect workers.”

ASSE stated in a press release that its OSHA Reform Blueprint – released to coincide with North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (May 7-13) – was vetted by safety professionals from a number of industries, and that its suggestions are “data-driven and experience-tested.”

The first recommendation calls for OSHA to shift from a compliance-driven organization to one that seeks to analyze and remove workplace dangers. To help accomplish this, ASSE stated, OSHA should require all employers to implement safety and health programs.

With President Donald Trump seeking to cut the Department of Labor’s budget by $2.5 billion for fiscal year 2018, ASSE is offering suggestions on how OSHA can maximize its effectiveness with fewer resources:

  • Look for solutions to the major causes of work fatalities.
  • Increase the use of third-party auditing.
  • Expand the practice of reducing citation fees to employers that choose to work with qualified safety and health professionals.
  • Seek a wide range of input to improve rules and standards.

In addition, ASSE is urging the agency to expand its occupational safety and health protection to all public workers. The organization claims 8.5 million workers are unprotected, and that state and local government workers report injuries or illnesses 70 percent more often than their private-sector counterparts.

ASSE also pointed out that only about 500 of the approximately 85,000 chemicals in commercial use have enforceable permissible exposure limits and suggested that OSHA use occupational hazard banding to help those affected understand the risks.

Further, ASSE recommended that OSHA scrap its controversial 2016 recordkeeping rule and commend employers who excel at keeping workers safe instead of continuing “the confrontational policy of publicly identifying” alleged violators “before due process is completed.”

“This blueprint can be the start of a deep and important conversation about creating a new OSHA that works more effectively for workers and employers,” ASSE President Thomas Cecich said in the release. “If we can take a collaborative approach, these proposed strategies will better protect workers and increase America’s competitiveness across the globe.”

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