US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

OSHA Approach to Safety Should be All-of-the-Above

Thursday, April 19, 2012Joe Brenckle 202-224-2465

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a hearing today on workplace safety and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said that while workplace injuries and illness have declined, the nation must continue to do better.

“Workplace safety is surely one of the most important missions Congress has authorized for the Department of Labor.  There are literally lives and livelihoods on the line,” said Senator Enzi.  “When it comes to improving workplace safety, OSHA must have an all-of-the-above strategy and pursue multiple methods, rather than focusing only on new regulations and stronger enforcement.  Voluntary programs involving employees and management such as the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) have been shown to make workplaces considerably safer and save money.  Yet, under the current Administration, VPP has been threatened and undermined.  Instead, we should be talking about expanding VPP to smaller employers and making it even more effective.”

Last year, Senator Enzi joined with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, to introduce legislation to protect and preserve the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Protection Programs.  The program is a cooperative effort between private industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but was slated for defunding by the Administration’s FY2011 budget proposal. 

“As someone who has run a workplace safety program personally, I am very supportive of giving employers quality information and flexibility to see what works best to keep their worksite safe,” Senator Enzi said. “Today, even the smallest employers must grapple with thousands of pages of regulations and burdensome record-keeping requirements.  But what should matter the most is the result – keeping workplaces safe.  OSHA must use its broad authority appropriately when establishing new standards.  The agency must ensure that new standards address an actual hazard and the preventative steps OSHA may mandate must actually work to reduce the risk.  If the costs will weigh heavily on small businesses, OSHA must consult with small business stakeholders.  I will closely scrutinize proposals to “shortcut” any of these important steps.” 

Watch Senator Enzi’s opening statement here.  

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