In any activity, the purpose of ASSE's Government Affairs is to
support the advancement of the safety, health and environmental (SH&E) profession and that the contribution of SH&E professionals to the health and well being of the American people is appropriately recognized by government at all levels, and
influence the decisions government makes so that the impact on safety, health and the environment in the workplace reflects good science and best practices of our member SH&E professionals.
Mechanisms need to be developed to allow the occupational safety and health community to overcome the division that for too long has limited OSHA's and MSHA's ability to update permissible exposure limits (PELs) and other standards appropriately. For example, ASSE has long called for the use of negotiated rulemaking to set exposure limits and legal protections to standard development organizations (SDOs) to pursue exposure limits through the voluntary consensus standard process. Department of Labor leadership can help establish a national stakeholder dialogue on OSH issues that helps build common ground on priorities and encourages the development of creative approaches to regulation that can better make use of what most likely will be OSHA's continued limited resources, given the current economic climate.
OSH regulation must better encompass risk-based approaches that better encourage employers to take overall responsibility for safety and health throughout their organizations. Ways need to be found to encourage more employers to take a proactive approach for safety and health management and not simply be reactive to minimal regulatory mandates. Successful employers use this approach to help maintain competitiveness, and OSHA and MSHA can help encourage more U.S. companies to be competitive in the global marketplace by encouraging more active safety and health commitments.
In states that do not have their own state OSHA plans and, thus, are covered by federal OSHA, state and municipal workers are not guaranteed protection under the OSHA standards. An estimated 8.5 million state and municipal workers are not afforded the same workplace protections private sector workers are given. Our members are working now to achieve such coverage in Florida. For the nation, we support federal legislation to require that all state and municipal employees enjoy the same workplace protections given private sector employees.
Strengthening OSHA criminal and civil penalties for workplace safety and health violations ending in fatalities is a key issue of concern over the last several years in Congress. ASSE hopes that a bipartisan approach can be reached on changes to the OSH Act that would target truly bad actors and encourage corporate responsibility for setting a culture of safety at the highest level of management and not simply focus on levels of penalties.
ASSE is concerned that NIOSH's singular role occupational safety and health recent years has not been fully supported within (CDC).