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Enzi's SAFE Act Lauded

It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

A former OSHA compliance officer and the founder of a nonprofit that helps families obtain details about fatal workplace accidents said OSHA is ineffective and would be improved by the "SAFE Act," a bill introduced by Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo.

The "Safety Advancement for Employees Act of 1999" also known as the "SAFE Act," S. 385, introduced in February, calls for third-party audits, an OSHA review committee, continued education for OSHA inspectors and specialized inspections for workplaces.

Enzi attempted to move a similar bill through Congress last year but was unsuccessful. The bill is necessary because OSHA is corrupt and has difficulty changing its ways, former federal inspector William F. Alcarese told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, subcommittee on employment, safety and training.

"OSHA often used the excuse of manpower for not initiating or following up on issues," said Alcarese, who was a federal OSHA inspector for five years and a state plan inspector for three years. "While employed with OSHA, I was personally ordered to cease inspection activity because I racked up too many inspections three months prior to the fiscal year. Stated simply, the office never wanted to exceed an inspection numbers quota agreed between the area office and region."

He said S. 385 "addresses safety management as a methodology to tackle workplace safety issues. It provides employers resources to tackle and learn through the aid of competent safety professionals what this stuff really means. It allows for the approach to address hazards where the losses are occurring and where the potential problems are festering."

Ron Hayes, founder of Families In Grief Hold Together (FIGHT), a nonprofit group dedicated to helping the families of victims of workplace fatalities, said the bill "will allow some much needed oversight and change, to make this agency more responsive to the workplace. OSHA's reactive enforcement methodology has not and is not working. Allowing OSHA continue in this manner and giving them more and more money each year and getting less and less each year is just crazy."

Enzi said he will push hard for the bill's passage this year and urged the agency to work with Congress.

"By opposing the SAFE Act and by shutting down discussion of the SAFE Act, OSHA remains assured that it will be in control at the highest of human costs," he said. OSHA cannot be allowed to "run roughshod over serious reform attempts as the SAFE Act any longer."

OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress said the hearing was "one-sided" and the testimony "inaccurate."

"OSHA sets high professional standards and holds its staff to them," said Jeffress. "Our compliance officers are dedicated to enforcing the law, not breaking it."

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