Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health

October 11, 2007 Meeting Minutes

Room C-5521, Francis Perkins Building
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210

Representatives Attending

Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., Chair
Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health
Department of Labor

W. Corey Thompson, Jr., Vice Chair - Labor representative
Safety and Health Specialist
American Postal Workers' Union, AFL-CIO

Donald G. Bathurst - Federal agency representative
Chief of Administrative Services
Department of Homeland Security

Curtis M. Bowling - Federal agency representative
Director of Environmental Readiness and Safety
Department of Defense

Mr. Ralph E. Dudley - Federal agency representative
General Manager - Safety and Health
Tennessee Valley Authority

Mr. Keith A. Nelson - Federal agency representative
Assistant Secretary for Administration
Department of Housing and Urban Development

Ms. Kathleen J. H. Wheeler - Federal agency representative
Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer
Department of Interior

Mr. Paul Hutter - Federal agency representative
General Counsel and Acting Chief of Human Resources
Department of Veterans Affairs

Ms. Catherine M. Angotti - Alternate federal agency representative
Director, Occupational Health
Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer

Jose S. Gonzales - Labor representative
Sergeant at Arms
California State Fraternal Order of Police/Empire Lodge II

Mr. Jeff Friday - Alternate labor representative
National Counsel
National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU)

Deborah Kleinberg, Esq. - Alternate labor representative
Seafarers International Union, AFL-CIO

Mr. William "Chico" McGill - Labor representative
Director, Government Employees Department
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Milagro Rodriguez - Labor representative
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO

Also Participating

Diane Brayden - FACOSH Designated Federal Official
OSHA - Office of Federal Agency Programs
Department of Labor

Shelby Hallmark
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
Employment Standards Administration
Department of Labor

Mikki Holmes
OSHA - Office of Federal Agency Programs
Department of Labor

Laura Mills
OSHA - Office of Federal Agency Programs
Department of Labor

Michelle Walker
OSHA - Office of Federal Agency Programs
Department of Labor

Call to Order and Introductions

Chair Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, called the meeting of the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH or Council) to order at 1:11 p.m., October 11, 2007. He thanked Council members for their participation and asked FACOSH members and alternates, and other attendees to introduce themselves. Mr. Foulke also welcomed the new FACOSH members: Ralph Dudley (Tennessee Valley Authority); Paul Hutter (Veterans Administration); Kathleen Wheeler (Department of the Interior); Colleen Kelley (NTEU); William "Chico" McGill (IBEW); and Chester Wheeler (SIU), who was reappointed for a second consecutive term.

Election of Vice-Chair

Mr. Foulke thanked Mr. Corey Thompson, American Postal Workers Union, the current Council Vice-Chair, for his service and explained the need for a new vice-chair for the 2008 calendar year. He further explained that the Council's Articles of Organization required alternating the position between labor and management members and noted that Mr. Thompson was a labor representative. Mr. Foulke stated that he had accepted Mr. Curtis Bowling's, Department of Defense (DOD), nomination for the position and asked for other nominations. Hearing no other nominations, Mr. Foulke asked for a voice vote and Mr. Bowling was elected FACOSH Vice-Chair for calendar year 2008.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Foulke moved that the Council approve the March 1, 2007 FACOSH meeting minutes (Exhibit 2*). The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

Updates on Ongoing Activities

Safety, Health, and Return-to-Employment (SHARE) Initiative
SHARE FY 2007 Progress

Mr. Foulke and Shelby Hallmark, Director, Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), conducted a joint presentation on the Presidential Safety, Health, and Return-to-Employment (SHARE) Initiative to improve safety and health among federal employees. Mr. Foulke called the attendees' attention to their copies of the fiscal year (FY) 2006 summary report to the President (Exhibit 3). He noted that the Initiative had been extended for three years, through FY 2009.

During the presentation, Mr. Foulke reported that the SHARE Initiative established four goals and that OSHA oversees Goals 1 and 2, while OWCP oversees Goals 3 and 4. The goals are:

  1. To reduce total injury and illness case rates (TCRs) by at least 3% per year;
  2. To reduce lost time case rates (LTCRs) by at least 3% per year;
  3. To improve the timely filing of injury and illness notices by at least 5% per year; and
  4. To reduce lost production day rates (LPDRs) by at least 1% per year.

Mr. Foulke pointed out that the SHARE extension would allow the federal government to build on the improvements of the first three years and noted that FY 2006 was the first year in which the government had been successful in meeting all four goals.

For Goal 1, Mr. Foulke reported that the federal government was on track to meet the goal for FY 2007. He reported on individual agency goal achievements and commended the efforts and improvement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mr. Foulke reported similar government-wide success on Goal 2.

Mr. Hallmark provided information on Goals 3 and 4. He noted that the federal government as a whole was on track to exceed Goal 3 in FY 2007, and that it had met this goal each of the three prior years. He also discussed individual agency achievements toward meeting this goal.

With respect to Goal 4, Mr. Hallmark explained that it integrates the safety and case management areas reflecting both reductions in injuries and quicker return of employees to work when injury occurs. Mr. Hallmark reported that the federal government had made substantial improvements through the third quarter of FY 2007. He then discussed the progress of individual agencies, noting DHS's significant improvements.

In concluding the slide presentation, Mr. Hallmark noted that the number of OWCP claims was at its lowest since the early 1970s. Mr. Foulke thanked Mr. Hallmark and opened the floor for questions.

Mr. Chico McGill, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) noted the absence of information on the Department of Energy (DOE) and asked about the omission. Mr. Hallmark confirmed that DOE is included in the SHARE Initiative and Ms. Diane Brayden, OSHA, stated that leaving the DOE data out of the slide presentation was likely a matter of presentation design.

FY 2006 President's Report

Mr. Foulke explained the Secretary's statutory responsibility to provide the President an annual summary on the status of safety and health among federal Executive Branch agencies. He then introduced Ms. Michelle Walker, OSHA, to update the members on the report (Exhibit 4).

Ms. Walker noted that the report had been forwarded to the President on October 3 and called members' attention to their copies. Ms. Walker explained the organization of the report and then provided specific information on federal safety and health statistics. She mentioned the reductions in injury and illness cases and rates compared to FY 2005, and the impact of these improvements on the government's success at meeting the SHARE total and lost time case rate reduction goals (Goals 1 and 2). She also noted the increase in overall workers' compensation costs which were attributed to increases in the cost of living index and medical expenditures.

Ms. Walker mentioned that most agencies reported having implemented the injury and illness recordkeeping requirements under 29 CFR Part 1904, which took effect for federal agencies on January 1, 2005. She stated that agencies which failed to report on their compliance status or which had not properly implemented the requirements had been contacted to clarify their recordkeeping responsibilities. She then briefly described the various methods agencies reported having established to track and collate the necessary information.

On the subject of motor vehicle and seatbelt safety, Ms. Walker described the programmatic and enforcement variations throughout the government but noted that most agencies reported attempts to ensure safe vehicle operations. With respect to field Federal Safety and Health Councils (FFSHCs), Ms. Walker explained their purpose and gave a brief overview of federal agency participation, mentioning that a full report would occur later in the day.

After Ms. Walker summarized the government's safety and health performance statistics, the contents of the individual agency reports, and various graphs and charts, she reported that the agencies had already received the request for FY 2007 information (Exhibit 5). Ms. Walker provided an overview of the information request, called members' attention to their copies, and discussed the two agency report templates.

Mr. Bowling, DOD, and Mr. Paul Hutter, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asked about the various report due dates. Ms. Walker clarified that agency reports were due to OSHA on January 1 and the President's report was due on October 1.

Mr. Foulke thanked Ms. Walker and explained the OSH-related requirements of several statutes and discussed their relevance to federal agencies. He then emphasized the importance of employee safety and health and its value to the government.

FACOSH Recordkeeping Subcommittee

Mr. Foulke explained the purpose of the Subcommittee and noted that Ms. Milagro Rodriguez, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), and Mr. Richard Williams, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were the co-chairs. He then introduced Ms. Mikki Holmes, OSHA to provide an update on the Subcommittee's activities.

Ms. Holmes reiterated the Subcommittee's purpose, noted its meeting frequency and membership, and then introduced both the voting members and contributing experts present. She explained that the group focused on federal agency strategies injury and illness data collection and volunteer identification.

Ms. Holmes enumerated the group's recommendations to OSHA and called FACOSH members' attention to their copies of the Subcommittee's Statement of Purpose for a database and the group's meeting minutes (Exhibits 6 and 7). Ms. Holmes clarified that the database would be created from the required recordkeeping forms and be designed to allow:

  • Injury and illness rate comparison across agencies and job types;
  • Agencies to generate the required forms;
  • OSHA to aggregate data at different levels, such as calculating SHARE Initiative statistics;
  • OSHA to identify establishments with high injury and illness rates and develop federal agency training based on types of injuries; and
  • Other agencies to research the data, compare private and federal statistics, and calculate rates based on job type.

According to Ms. Holmes, the group had identified four steps in gathering the information for creating the database and explained the progress of those steps. With regard to the specific steps, Ms. Holmes noted that the first step was for agencies to identify their various establishments. She informed FACOSH that OSHA had released a memo clarifying the definition the term as it applies to the federal sector and asking agencies to provide a list by January 1, 2008. Ms. Holmes noted that the remaining steps include:

  • Developing a process for data submission,
  • Testing the submission process and data quality, and
  • Collecting the data.

Ms. Holmes informed FACOSH that the database implementation would require a rule change and that OSHA had begun working with its solicitors toward that end. Ms. Holmes explained the scope of the proposed rule change and stated that, in the solicitors' opinion, such a change would not require notice or comment periods. After assuring the members that the new language would be provided to them, the Department of Labor's Policy Planning Board, the Office of Management and Budget, and other agencies, she opened the floor for questions.

Mr. Hutter, VA, asked about online data submission and Ms. Holmes clarified that the submission would occur on an annual basis. Mr. Keith Nelson, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asked about including volunteers and Ms. Holmes provided the rationale and statutory requirement for such inclusion.

Mr. Donald Bathurst, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), questioned the various due dates and collection years. Ms. Diane Brayden, OSHA, reported that the change in the collection year for the OSHA-related data was to align with private sector collection requirements.

Mr. Bowling, DOD, asked for a rule change timeline. Ms. Holmes responded that the timeline called for completing the change in FY 2008 and implementing the change in FY 2009.

Federal Agency Safety and Health Training

Mr. Foulke introduced Ms. Laura Mills, OSHA, to report on federal agency safety and health training. Ms. Mills noted that the Office of Federal Agency Programs (OFAP) had surveyed agency safety and health officials to determine the types of OSH training they used and the categories of employees trained.

According to Ms. Mills, the survey results indicated that in-house-developed training was the most prevalent. The preferred methods of training varied by types of respondents and included classroom training, audio/video conferencing, and web-based learning. She further explained that respondents had provided information on the types of training materials they needed, already had, and were willing to share. Ms. Mills called members' attention to their copies of the survey summary report (Exhibit 8). Ms. Mills also reported on plans to develop a follow-up survey to refine the information on shared training materials.

As a corollary to the information on the training survey results, Ms. Mills called members' attention to the federal agency training week scheduled for the following month. She described the course offerings and provided registration information (Exhibit 9).

Mr. Hutter, VA, asked for clarification on the distinction between the various electronic forms of training. Ms. Mills gave a general explanation based on her understanding and offered to investigate further. Mr. Hutter agreed to subsequent email correspondence on the subject.

Ms. Rodriguez, AFGE, asked for an explanation on the collection of data in the 'employee and employee representative' category. Ms. Mills replied that the survey responses had come from agency safety and health officials.

Mr. Hutter, VA, asked about "collateral duty-specific training" and Ms. Mills expanded upon the topic, including the scope of such training.

Field Federal Safety and Health Councils

Ms. Mills provided background on the FFSHCs' purpose and functions for the benefit of the new FACOSH members, and also described Councils' membership structure and development. Ms. Mills presented a map showing the location of the active FFSHCs across the country.

Ms. Mills described OSHA's provisions for recognizing the annual achievements of FFSHCs. She noted that there were three award levels within each of three different council size categories and described the changes in those categories for the current year. She also provided members with the award results for the previous year.

Ms. Mills continued her report, describing the extent of various agencies' participation and the challenges for personnel wishing to participate. She called members' attention to their copies of Mr. Foulke's memo to agency officials and OSHA regional administrators encouraging participation (Exhibit 10).

Mr. Nelson, HUD, requested information on the award winning FFSHCs and their successful strategies. Ms. Mills explained that the winning Councils were exemplary in providing training and maintaining an active schedule of well-attended meetings.

Mr. Hutter, VA, asked about union participation. Ms. Rodriguez responded confirming organized labor's interest in and support of its members participating in FFSHCs. Mr. Corey Thompson, American Postal Workers' Union (APWU) noted that the collective bargaining agreement between USPS management and APWU required FFSHC support and participation.

New Business

FACOSH Member Nominations

Mr. Foulke noted that three management and three labor representatives' terms would expire in June 2008. He stated that a request for nominations would be published in the Federal Register, and that all qualified individuals would receive consideration. He also reminded the members that the Secretary reserved the right to nominate qualified candidates. When there were no questions on the nominations, Mr. Foulke opened the floor for any other new business.

Other New Business

Return-to-Work/Light Duty
Mr. Hutter, VA, asked about broadening the scope of contributions of returning employees to allow them to be more productive and support their agencies' missions.. Mr. Foulke noted the need for such discussion and referenced private sector policies on the subject, and suggested that there be a presentation(s) on this topic at the next meeting. Mr. Magill, IBEW, provided specific information on private sector procedures and offered to help with the issue.

Next meeting and adjournment

Mr. Foulke suggested that the next FACOSH meeting be scheduled for April 10, 2008 and there was no objection. Mr. Foulke mentioned FACOSH group photos and he and Ms. Brayden distributed member certificates. He then thanked members for their participation and adjourned the meeting at 2:51 p.m.

* Exhibit documents (listed below) from this meeting are available for copying and inspection at the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2009-0018, Room N-3437, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington DC 20210; telephone (202) 693-2350. Exhibits can also be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov, the federal eRulemaking Portal.