Dr. David Michaels is the Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Why do construction workers need fall protection? Why are workers prohibited from repairing machinery before it is “locked out”? Why are there limits to how much cancer causing asbestos or benzene workers can be exposed to? Exposure to these hazards endangers workers; in order to ensure that employers protect workers from these and many other hazards, we issue standards and enforce them.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has standards that save workers’ lives, save money for employers and preserve resources for our society. But every year there are new hazards that threaten workers’ lives and health and old standards that need to be updated.
Most employers want to take the steps necessary to protect their employees. One way that OSHA is planning to help employers accomplish this is a proposed regulatory initiative that would set up a process to assist employers to “find and fix” workplace hazards. This standard, called the Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard, is very similar to rules currently in place in California and several other states. It would require all high hazard employers to do what many responsible employers already do: implement a program or system that will help them identify hazards and prevent workers from getting injured, sick or killed on the job.
In addition to the Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard, OSHA is working on standards to protect workers from serious lung disease caused by silica; from slips, trips and falls; from confined spaces in the construction industry; from combustible dust explosions and from infectious diseases.
OSHA invites the public to participate in this activity through notice and comment, public hearings and special procedures to protect the interests of small businesses. We need your input, and your contribution will result in better worker protections.
Ed. Note: Please note that comments posted to this blog are not part of the formal rulemaking process. You can find DOL’s proposed regulations, and submit comments, by visiting www.regulations.gov.