OSHA Chief Dr. David Michaels Updates Congress on Enforcement Efforts
Noting that the Occupational Health and Safety Act has not been updated in over 44 years (leaving penalties very low compared to certain environmental regulations, for example), David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Labor, testified on October 7, 2015 regarding the latest developments in OSHA’s enforcement efforts.
Among other things, Dr. Michaels discussed OSHA’s recent guidance revising OSHA’s interpretation of the exemption of retail facilities from coverage of the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) standard (29 CFR 1910.119) and why OSHA has now determined that the exemption should no longer exist.
Dr. Michael’s also testified that OSHA only has the resources to inspect each job site once every 140 years, illuminating why the agency takes the position that it is greatly underfunded. Moreover, Dr. Michael’s confirmed that the latest House Appropriations bill reduces OSHA’s budget by approximately 7% from the previous year.
“The fewer inspections we do, the more injuries are going to occur, and the more costs are going to go up, and so we know this is going to have bad impact on workers.”
Dr. Michaels provided a wide-ranging discussion of a number of other matters including providing insight into the relationship of enforcement directives and the standards promulgated under the OSH Act.
Of note, Dr. Michaels testified that OSHA is inspecting less than 40% of injury and illness reports that have been made under the new reporting standards adopted as of January 1, 2015.