AIHA Offers Support and Suggestions for OSHA Reform Legislation

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is offering support and suggestions in a letter sent to Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who recently introduced three bills that Enzi says are aimed at changing OSHA's "inspect-and-fine enforcement mindset."

AIHA said it views Enzi's proposed Occupational Safety Partnership Act (S. 2065) and HazCom Simplification and Modernization Act of 2005 (S. 2067) "as an opportunity to make valuable changes in the way [OSHA] enhances and promotes worker health and safety in the United States," according to a Dec. 21 statement issued by the organization.

S. 2065 would create a third-party workplace review program. The concept, which has been supported by AIHA for several years, would allow employers to hire qualified, third-party occupational health and safety personnel to review a workplace. If the review were to be positive, employers would receive exemption from any OSHA penalty for 2 years.

AIHA points to a 2004 General Accounting Office report that states that "using consultants could leverage existing OSHA resources by helping workplaces that might never otherwise see an OSHA inspector, especially small employers, and possibly also by enabling employers to address additional safety and health issues that might not be covered under an OSHA inspection for compliance standards."

AIHA Supports VPP Proposals in S. 2065

AIHA offered its support for other proposals contained in S. 2065, such as the codification of the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) as well as programs to expand small business participation in VPP. The association also said it supports an increase in assistance to small businesses through increased funding for consultation programs and the implementation of a pilot program to enhance future assistance.

Also, AIHA said it supports the bill's proposals to encourage continuing education and professional certification for OSHA personnel, as well as the development and implementation of a training and education exchange program for OSHA and industry.

In addition to detailed comments on the various aspects of the program as outlined in the bill, AIHA offered additional suggestions to increase support for the third-party review concept among industry and labor. The association proposed that the program be established as a 2-year pilot program, limited to two or three states, with a focus on small businesses.

AIHA also suggested the formation of a special advisory committee to assist the secretary of labor with the establishment and implementation of the program.

AIHA Supports Development of Template for MSDSs

Concerning S. 2067, AIHA offered its support for the development of model material safety data sheets (MSDSs) that would comply with the requirements of OSHA's hazard communication standard and would be made available to the public.

The association also said it encourages the establishment of a commission to consider and make recommendations to Congress on whether or not to adopt the U.N. Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). AIHA sees S. 2067 as a way to improve communication of procedures for handling hazardous substances.

AIHA said it is keenly interested in the issues surrounding MSDSs because they are essential tools in the protection of employees exposed to chemical hazards in the workplace. Members of several of AIHA's expert committees have extensive experience and direct involvement with the technical and policy issues regarding MSDSs. Many are involved in the development or review of MSDSs for their employees.

With regard to S. 2065 and S. 2067, AIHA offered to assist Congress in any way possible in the development of legislation that will best protect workers.

The full text of AIHA's letters is available at http://www.aiha.org under "Government Affairs."

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