News Release USDL: 95-517
Wednesday, December 13, 1995
CONTACT: Frank Kane, (202) 219-8151
OSHA Lists 18 Priority Safety And Health Hazards
As Result Of Priority Planning Process
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
today identified 18 priority safety and health hazards in need of
either regulatory or nonregulatory action.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and
Health Joseph A. Dear and Linda Rosenstock, director of the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH),
presented results of OSHA's priority planning process at a
meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Occupational
Safety and Health (NACOSH).
"OSHA has had substantial success in fulfilling its mission
of preventing deaths, injuries and illnesses in the workplace,
but important gaps remain," Dear said. "Our resources are scarce
and expected to remain so. Therefore, we must focus national
attention and agency efforts where they are most needed and will
be most useful."
"NIOSH is pleased to have made important scientific and
technical contributions to the OSHA planning process," said
Rosenstock. "This is a wonderful example of NIOSH and OSHA
OSHA's priority planning process expresses its intent to
fill many of the gaps by identifying unmet safety and health
needs and establishing plans to deal with them through rulemaking
and by leveraging the private sector to undertake voluntary
These new priorities supplement rather than replace OSHA's
on-going activities. They involve preventable problems that are
responsible for a large number of injuries and illnesses (or in
some cases that pose particularly high risk to a small group) but
currently receive inadequate attention from government agencies
or organizations in the private sector.
Five of the new priorities have been chosen for rulemaking.
Noise/hearing conservation in construction and other noncovered industries
Permissible exposure limits for air contaminants (continuation of activity)
Electric power transmission and distribution in construction
These priorities will be added to OSHA's regulatory calendar
as other standards now on the calendar are completed and
resources become available.
For all the other priorities, OSHA will work with business,
labor, the professional community and its state plan partners to
encourage worker protection without developing new rules at this
time. In some cases interventions may involve OSHA's use of its
existing authority, as well as program initiatives recently
announced by President Clinton that provide incentives to
employers who effectively find and fix hazards. In most cases,
the current approaches to the new priorities will be voluntary
The priorities for such nonregulatory action are:
Commercial diving safety
Crane hoist safety
Motor vehicle safety
Occupational asthma (including an emphasis on latex allergy)
Oil and gas well drilling and servicing
Synthetic mineral fibers
Welding, cutting, and brazing
OSHA's priority planning process was initiated in 1994. It
included work by a priority planning committee with experts in
safety and health from OSHA, NIOSH, the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), and the Department of Labor's Office of the
Solicitor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and the
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
The committee reviewed available information on occupational
fatalities, injuries and illnesses and held an extensive dialogue
with stakeholders such as representatives of labor, industry,
professional and academic organizations, state plan designees,
voluntary standards organizations and the public. The committee
also received recommendations from NACOSH and the Advisory
Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH).
More than 125 hazards were nominated by individual
stakeholders and agency staff. The committee adopted a combined
qualitative and quantitative approach in selecting the hazards
that should be given the greatest priority.
The committee first applied four major criteria to the
The seriousness of the hazard
The number of workers exposed or the magnitude of the risk
The quality of available risk information
The potential for risk reduction
These criteria were then supplemented with three others so
the committee could consider whether rulemaking is appropriate.
The additional criteria are:
The 18 hazards were selected because they best met the
combination of criteria for designation as priorities. When the
new priorities are combined with issues being addressed by
existing programs they cover many of the nation's leading
occupational safety and health threats.
Dear and Rosenstock jointly reviewed and approved the final
list. Because many of the OSHA priorities will affect and depend
on NIOSH research, OSHA has invited NIOSH to take a leadership
role in developing research-related activities which will augment
the action plans for these priorities. The results of the
priority planning process will be an important consideration as
NIOSH works with its stakeholders to develop the national
occupational research agenda, a project designed to set
priorities for workplace research over the next decade.
OSHA will convene another stakeholder meeting to discuss the
18 priority hazards as well as to identify the six priority
issues the agency should address in the initial implementation
phase, and the ones that should be addressed in subsequent
After these discussions, OSHA will draft action plans for
the first six issues and will convene a symposium with interested
stakeholders to discuss the draft action plans before final
revisions and implementation.