Worker-safety hearing sparks debate over House HHS spending bill

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Public Citizen found that OSHA was once able to issue regulations in a year but that it now takes more than six, on average. The report concluded that faster action would have prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries, more than 10,000 cases of occupational illness and hundreds of worker fatalities.

"Despite complaints about burdensome regulations, OSHA has issued only two modest regulations during the Obama Administration," Woolsey said. "One updated an obsolete cranes and derricks rule; and the other updated a shipyard rule. Complaints about OSHA piling-on rules are simply wrong."

She said the House spending bill would "handcuff OSHA's ability to prevent deaths and disabling injuries from roof falls; obstruct OSHA's progress on a rule to require employers to identify and correct hazards in the workplace on an ongoing basis; and block an OSHA rule that would ensure employers record cumulative trauma disorders so workers and employers will know if there is a problem."

The panel's chairman, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), said the pending regulations were too burdensome for businesses.

"The administration's injury and illness prevention program … is an unfinished rule that may require employers to write comprehensive safety and health plans," he said. "This plan would be in addition to the countless pages of existing rules and paperwork facing employers. We don't know what the plan will look like, but we can expect the details to be dictated uniformly by OSHA officials, regardless of the circumstances of individual businesses. This proposal has generated a great deal of uncertainty among employers, something our economy cannot afford."