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AIHA Offers Recommendations for OSHA Priorities in New White Paper

In a new white paper examining OSHA's approach, effectiveness and potential for improvement, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) outlined 17 recommendations that range from reforming the standard-setting process to emphasizing performance-based approaches, improving data collection, modifying penalties, updating PELS and more.

"AIHA believes in the mission of OSHA as originally envisioned, but also recognizes the need for change based on programs and processes that have been successful over the last 40-plus years," the white paper stated.

In "Perspective on the Role of OSHA in Advancing Occupational Safety and Health for the Nation," AIHA encouraged OSHA to focus on the following recommendations in the next 5 years:

1. There is a continuing need for OSHA.
2. OSHA should have primary authority for all safety and health issues in workplaces that the agency regulates.
3. The OSHA standard-setting process needs to be reformed.
4. OSHA penalties are inadequate and should be modified.
5. OSHA coverage should be provided to all workers.
6. OSHA should emphasize performance-based approaches whenever possible.
7. OSHA should develop and promote occupational safety and health programs for small and medium-sized employers.
8. OSHA should have a mechanism that encourages employers to obtain third-party assistance.
9. OSHA should continue to provide a mechanism for employees to raise issues.
10. OSHA should improve the reliability and efficiency of the occupational injury and illness data collection, interpretation, and dissemination process.
11. OSHA should require and facilitate education, training, and guidance of employers and employee groups.
12. There should continue to be a general duty clause to enforce employer responsibility to provide safe and healthful working conditions.
13. OSHA should strengthen its support and promotion of partnerships and alliances that achieve excellence in occupational safety and health.
14. OSHA should enhance opportunities for employee participation.
15. OSHA should update the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).
16. OSHA and NIOSH must be effective partners in the development of occupational and environmental health standards and guidance.
17. OSHA and NIOSH should receive adequate resources to operate effectively.

The paper points out that nearly 5,000 work-related deaths occur annually nationwide, and workers incur more than 4 million injuries or illnesses every year. These numbers reveal the "continuing and urgent need for improved effectiveness in worker protection on a national scale."

"AIHA believes that OSHA remains the federal agency best positioned to address this workplace reality and focus efforts to ensure that work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses continue to decline," the paper states. "At the same time, AIHA believes it is necessary to scrutinize OSHA’s processes and programs and recommend ways to improve OSHA’s effectiveness."

Read the recommendations in full in the position statement and white paper, "Perspective on the Role of OSHA in Advancing Occupational Safety and Health for the Nation."

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