Michaels testifies on OSHA regulations, economic costs

Washington – OSHA administrator David Michaels defended his agency’s actions during a House subcommittee hearing in which businesses’ community representatives asserted regulations were harming job creation.

The March 16 hearing, convened by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending Subcommittee, covered regulatory costs in the construction industry and its effects on job creation.

Maurice Baskin, a lawyer testifying on behalf of Arlington, VA-based Associated Builders and Contractors, said (.pdf file) recent regulatory proposals from OSHA could “cripple job creation and stifle growth in the construction industry, while offering little in return in terms of worker safety.” He suggested two recently withdrawn OSHA proposals – a noise rule interpretation and an injury and illness reporting requirement change – could cost the industry billions.

In Michaels’ testimony, the OSHA chief said the noise interpretation was intended to help reduce the thousands of annual hearing loss incidents. The reporting requirement would give employers more information on workplace musculoskeletal disorders, which lead to nearly 350,000 days away from work each year.

In general, Michaels maintained that both enforcement and regulations save lives, and said disabling injuries cost employers more than $1 billion a week.

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