Michaels defends OSHA agenda during House hearing

Washington – During a House subcommittee hearing that frequently focused on the costs and burdens new regulations pose on employers, OSHA administrator David Michaels reiterated his agency’s reliance on scientific evidence in promulgating rules, as well as OSHA’s goal to prevent injuries and deaths.

Testifying before the Workforce Protections Subcommittee Oct. 5, Michaels stressed that the current OSHA administration has issued only two rules, and rules the agency is working on have either been in the works for several years (such as updating the Crystalline Silica Standard) or are widely embraced throughout the country (issuing an Injury and Illness Prevention Program Standard).

During an exchange with Michaels, thoracic surgeon Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) took issue with the suggestion that silica dust exposure leads to cancer, noting that the American Cancer Society does not list the compound as a leading cause. Michaels, an epidemiologist, said the scientific literature links the compound to increased cancer risk.

Regarding a new enforcement directive requiring conventional fall protection for all residential construction workers, Michaels suggested implementation costs for employers outweigh the risk.

“Obviously it’s going to raise some costs, but it’s going to save some lives and that’s what OSHA is about,” he said.

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