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Safety 2008: Foulke Tells Safety Professionals to Get Involved in Rulemaking Process

During a question and answer session at Safety 2008, the annual professional development conference and exhibition of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) held this week in Las Vegas, OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke discussed the complex, complicated process used to promulgate occupational safety and health regulations.

Congress, the courts and the administration all play roles in the rulemaking process, noted Foulke, but the point is not to stall the process, but to provide “transparency” to the process. “You need to be involved in the process for bills that impact on safety and health. You are a critical element in the success of a standard or bill,” Foulke told attendees.

Foulke acknowledged, however, that even by following every OSHA standard to the letter, an employer can hope to have a “good” safety program at best. “Compliance meets your legal responsibilities,” said Foulke. “But I believe you feel like I do, that this is a moral issue, not just a legal issue. Compliance is not going to get you to the point of a great safety program.”

Foulke noted that a Liberty Mutual study found that a serious workplace injury costs an employee between $7,000 and $8,000 out of their own savings. Injuries and illnesses cost employers $170 billion per year, according to Liberty Mutual. Companies that address reducing injuries and illnesses will be “more profitable, more competitive,” said Foulke, and will have employees who are more productive.

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