Panelists: OSHA should stick with traditional rulemaking processes

Washington – Witnesses at a Feb. 15 House subcommittee hearing suggested OSHA was skirting its requirements under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.

The act requires reviews of economic impact on small businesses for some agencies’ proposed rules. Such a review did not take place for two recent OSHA measures – a noise standard interpretation and a musculoskeletal disorder reporting requirement. Although both initiatives have since been withdrawn by OSHA (at least temporarily), several panelists saw the moves as evidence OSHA was operating through “regulatory fiat” rather than a traditional rulemaking process.

“OSHA benefits when it embraces the SBREFA process as a constructive dialogue,” said Tom Sullivan (.pdf file), an attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Washington.

Also testifying was Tammy Miser (.pdf file), executive director of Lexington, KY-based United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities. Miser took issue with the suggestion that regulations kill jobs. She said a lack of regulations costs lives, and deadly incidents could lead to worksite closings and job loss.

OSHA administrator David Michaels, who did not testify, issued a statement before the hearing echoing Miser’s comments. “There is clear evidence that OSHA’s commonsense regulations have made working conditions in this country today far safer than 40 years ago when the agency was created, while at the same time protecting American jobs,” he said.

The hearing was the first in the new Congress convened by the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee.

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