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OSHA's relationship with OIRA is anything but 'fruitful'

In a Bloomberg BNA piece this week, OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels was quoted as saying that many companies are beginning to understand that protecting worker safety is good for business.

“It's hard for me to judge overall changes,” Michaels told BNA, “but I certainly have seen many employers recognize that managing for safety is useful not only to prevent injuries and fatalities, but in fact leads to a more profitable company. And I believe that's being embraced much more widely.”

At the same time, Michaels admitted that the notion of protecting workers isn’t accepted across the board.

But the worrisome part of Michaels’ interview with BNA was that he thought that OSHA’s relationship with Cass Sunstein, the recently departed chief of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was “fruitful.”

“Our take is that OSHA’s relationship with OIRA was anything but fruitful,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. “From a long delayed rule protecting workers from exposure to silica dust on the job to a standard that would have enabled employers to find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt, meaningful worker safety regulations have failed to make it through the bureaucratic pipeline.”

Under Sunstein, “OIRA routinely misses deadlines, stalling public health and safety protections. By executive order, OIRA has 90 days to review a rule, plus a possible 30-day extension,” wrote Firedoglake’s David Dayen. “Of the 501 completed reviews in which outside parties lobbied OIRA, 59 (12 percent) lasted longer than 120 days and 22 extended beyond 180 days (about six months).” 

National COSH hopes that Sunstein’s replacement will consider the benefits – not merely the costs – of new rules that would save the lives of thousands of American workers.