Have OSHA advisory committees been disbanded? Coalition asks Acosta to fill vacancies
Washington — A coalition of 42 organizations has sent a letter to Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta expressing its concern regarding “recent reports that the Department of Labor is stalling, disbanding and allowing the lapse of several critical federal advisory committees” at OSHA.
The letter, dated April 24, calls for Acosta to fill vacancies on the:
- National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
- Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health
- Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
- Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee
- Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health
The coalition also is requesting that Acosta recharter WPAC and FACOSH. The final appeal asks DOL to select members for the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health “with balanced representation from the scientific, medical and claimant communities.”
In its fiscal year 2019 budget request, OSHA states that WPAC is “being replaced with more targeted stakeholder meetings,” and that FACOSH was not renewed by Executive Order 13811. The agency says FACOSH costs $173,831 to operate and an estimated $140,000 will be saved by not renewing WPAC.
The Santa Fe New Mexican, in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, published a report March 29 stating that none of the committees has met for at least nine months and four of the five have not met for more than a year. WPAC’s last meeting was April 26, 2016, the newspaper claims.
“It is critical that these advisory boards be given the opportunity to meet and make recommendations as well as help implement science-based safeguards so that everyone can benefit from a safer workplace,” the coalition’s letter concludes.
Among the organizations that signed the letter are the AFL-CIO, BlueGreen Alliance, the Center for Progressive Reform, the National Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Public Citizen, United Steelworkers, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.