Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health

April 10, 2008 Meeting Minutes

Room C-5521, Conference Room 4
U.S. Department of Labor, 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

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

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

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

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

Michael W. Hager - Alternate federal agency representative
Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration
Department of Veterans Affairs

Marie Savoy - Alternate federal agency representative
Director, Office of Administration and Management Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development

Diane B. Schmitz - Alternate federal agency representative
Director, Office of Occupational Health
Department of the Interior

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

Ruth Ann "Randi" Ciszewski - Alternate labor representative
Government Fleet Representative
National Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO

Jeff Friday - Alternate labor representative
National Counsel
National Treasury Employees Union

Alan Kadrofske - Alternate labor representative
Legislative Representative
American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO

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

Dennis Phelps - Alternate labor representative
International Representative
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO

Also Participating

Tom Galassi, Deputy Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Department of Labor

Shelby Hallmark, Director
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP)
Employment Standards Administration (ESA)
Department of Labor

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

Greg Barber
OSHA - Office of Federal Agency Programs
Department of Labor

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

Stephanie Semmer
Department of Labor

Mary Pat Scanlon
Injury and Unemployment Compensation
Civilian Personnel Management Service
Department of Defense

Steven Rosen
National Park Service
Department of the Interior

Frank Denny
Office of Occupational Safety and Health
Department of Veterans Affairs

Jim Meredith
Office of Occupational Health and Safety
Department of the Interior

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 1:14 p.m. on April 10, 2008. Mr. Foulke requested that Tom Galassi, Department of Labor (DOL), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), provide a review of the emergency and shelter-in-place procedures. FACOSH members and alternates, and other attendees were then asked to introduce themselves.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Foulke certified the accuracy of the October 11, 2007 meeting minutes. Ms. Catherine Angiotti, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), made the motion to accept the minutes; it was seconded and unanimously approved.

Old Business

FACOSH Membership

Mr. Foulke noted that six members' terms are expiring in June 2008: Donald Bathurst, Department of Homeland Security (DHS); Keith Nelson, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Richard Whitford (DHS); Richard Duffy, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); Jose Gonzales, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP); and Milly Rodriguez, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). He thanked the departing members for their service. He noted that a request for member nominations was published in the Federal Register on December 10, 2007, and that a second notice was published on January 18, 2008 to allow additional time for interested parties to respond. Nominations were received for a total of 18 candidates from representatives of federal agency management, labor organizations representing federal employees, and private sector entities. Mr. Foulke explained that only representatives of federal agency management and federal employee organizations are eligible for FACOSH membership. He noted that the nominations are being reviewed and recommendations would soon be forwarded to the Secretary of Labor for consideration.

Safety, Health, and Return-to-Employment (SHARE) Initiative
SHARE FY 2008 Progress

Mr. Foulke and Shelby Hallmark, Director, DOL, Employment Standards Administration (ESA), 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 recalled that the previous FACOSH meeting had included updates on the FY 2007 performance and that the federal government, excluding the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) which is not included as part of the Initiative, met all four SHARE goals for the second consecutive year. He noted that the Initiative has been extended for three years, through FY 2009.

Mr. Foulke explained that the SHARE Initiative established four goals and that OSHA tracks Goals 1 and 2, while OWCP tracks 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 cases by at least 5% per year; and
  4. To reduce lost production day rates (LPDRs) by at least 1% per year.

Mr. Foulke reported that for FY 2008 the federal government is on track to exceed Goals 1 and 2, as are 11 of the major departments. He also praised the success of DHS and its contribution to the improvement of federal government's overall SHARE performance in these areas of emphasis.

Mr. Hallmark provided information on Goals 3 and 4. He noted that the federal government as a whole is on track to exceed Goal 3 in FY 2008, and that nearly every agency would likely exceed their individual targets. With respect to Goal 4, Mr. Hallmark reported that the federal government's substantial improvements during both FY 2006 and FY 2007 are continuing during FY 2008, noting that the goal is a difficult one to achieve. He then noted that most agencies are performing well and that there is a clear variation between agencies' performance when blue collar jobs are compared to white collar ones.

Mr. Hallmark mentioned the working relationship with the USPS and noted his agency's willingness to work with other agencies on an individual basis. Mr. Foulke closed the topic by thanking everyone for their efforts towards the success of the SHARE Initiative and mentioned that the FY 2008 second quarter statistics would soon be posted on the DOL website.

After asking for questions and hearing none, Mr. Foulke turned the meeting over to FACOSH Vice-Chair, Mr. Curtis Bowling, Department of Defense (DoD), then departed for another commitment.

FACOSH Recordkeeping Subcommittee

Mr. Bowling explained that the Recordkeeping Subcommittee was established during the March 1, 2007 FACOSH meeting to explore strategies for collecting the site-specific injury and illness data that federal agencies are now required to keep under OSHA recordkeeping requirements found at 29 CFR Part 1904. He then introduced Ms. Mikki Holmes, OSHA, who provided an update on the Subcommittee's activities since the October 11, 2007 FACOSH meeting.

Ms. Holmes reported that OSHA has been collecting the agency establishment lists, drafting the rule change under 29 CFR Part 1960 to incorporate the proposed recordkeeping changes, and working with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to identify system modifications to the private sector survey. Ms. Holmes reported that 15 major departments and 55 independent agencies have provided establishment lists and that the information is being collated into a database. Ms. Holmes noted that the agencies would be asked to confirm the accuracy of their information and provide a contact name for each establishment or group of establishments.

Ms. Holmes clarified that the rule change is necessary to allow OSHA to collect the injury and illness data on an annual basis. The change would incorporate a modification to the due date for the agency annual reports to OSHA, reinsert requirements for access to medical records, affirm that volunteers in the federal sector are considered employees and covered by the recordkeeping requirements, stipulate responsibility for recording an injury or illness experienced by an employee of one agency while being supervised by an employee of another agency, and create of procedures for recording employee job series and identifying volunteers on the OSHA Form 300 log. Ms. Holmes also provided an overview of the review and approval process for the rule change and the planned outreach efforts to the agencies.

Ms. Holmes also reported that BLS has agreed to modify its private sector injury and illness data collection survey to accommodate additional information needed for the federal data. She also noted that, unlike the private sector sampling, the federal data would be a census, collecting all of the available data. Upon approval of the rule change and finalization of the establishment lists, OSHA would provide the establishment lists to BLS to begin collecting the data. Ms. Holmes explained that the agencies could provide the data as an electronic file, enter the information online, or fill out a paper survey.

Ms. Holmes noted that OSHA would be prepared to provide assistance to federal agencies through written guidance, advance copies of the survey, an informational webcast, and assistance with filling out the necessary forms. She ended the presentation with a discussion of the need to code data reported under open-ended questions on the OSHA Form 301 incident report, and expressed the Subcommittee's desire to work with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop an online query system for data analysis.

Since there were no questions on the subject, Mr. Bowling proceeded to the next update.

FEDTARG08 Inspection Program

Mr. Bowling explained that on January 3, 2008, OSHA published a directive implementing a nationwide inspection targeting program for federal agency worksites as a means of addressing deficiencies noted in the Government Accountability Office's April 2006 audit report on the status of workplace safety and health in the federal sector. He introduced Greg Barber, OSHA, to update the Council on the program.

Mr. Barber reiterated Mr. Bowling's explanation of the program's genesis and called members' attention to the copy of the directive provided in their packets. He then provided definitions of several terms, based on questions he frequently received about the directive.

Mr. Barber reported that OSHA used OWCP claims data for determining site selection. He explained that each OSHA Region received a primary inspection list, and that the area offices would be conducting inspections within their geographic areas of responsibility. Once the primary lists are completed, the Region could contact the National Office to request a list of secondary sites.

Mr. Barber clarified that the site selection was a random process and that the primary lists included all establishments reporting 100 or more lost time cases (LTCs) during FY 2006, 50% of those reporting 50-99 LTCs, and 10% of those reporting 20-49 LTCs. He also informed the members that there are three conditions under which a site could be removed from the list. He specified that a site can be deleted if it:

  • Has received of a comprehensive safety inspection within the previous 24 months;
  • Is participant in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP); or
  • Is an OSHA Strategic Partnership site that satisfies specific program requirements.

Mr. Barber explained that the inspections would include a recordkeeping evaluation, and could include a health inspection or ergonomic hazard consultation. Mr. Barber also noted that, for sites with security clearance access requirements, OSHA personnel conducting the inspections would obtain the necessary clearances. Finally, OSHA would issue notices upon determining that a violation of an applicable standard existed.

When there were no questions, Mr. Bowling moved on to the next agenda item.

Federal Agency Safety and Health Training

Mr. Bowling introduced Ms. Laura Mills, OSHA, to report on federal agency safety and health training. Ms. Mills recalled the previous meeting's presentation and called members' attention to the results report included in their packets. She noted that the OSHA - Office of Federal Agency Programs (OFAP) had sent out Part I of a survey to agency safety and health officials. The survey asked about the types of OSH training they used, the preferred training formats, their willingness to share materials, and their interests in OSHA-developed training.

Ms. Mills then noted that the Council members were emailed a copy of Part II of the survey for review and that a copy was included in their packets. According to Ms. Mills, Part II would clarify the available agency training materials and allow agencies a second chance to provide information not available when they answered Part I. Part II would ask more specific questions about the training topic, its intended audience, the format, and duration, and would be sent only to the chief agency safety and health managers.

Finally, Ms. Mills discussed the survey technology and the possible means of providing access to the information collected. Since there were no questions on the issue, Ms. Mills proceeded to clarify the schedule for the federal agency training week (FedWeek) for the coming years. The next scheduled week would likely occur in November 2008 for FY 2009, and then switch to a permanent summer schedule in FY 2010 and beyond.

Since there were no questions, Mr. Bowling asked for a motion to accept Part I of the survey results. The motion was made, seconded, and passed unanimously. He then adjourned the meeting for a five-minute break. Upon returning from the break, he noted the recent arrival of Ms. Diane Schmitz, Department of the Interior, and moved on to the New Business portion of the meeting.

New Business

Return-to-Work Programs

Mr. Bowling introduced the Return-to-Work Programs topic and explained that a series of presentations would be made by several subject matter experts. He then introduced Ms. Stephanie Semmer, OWCP, to begin the discussion.

OWCP Presentation

Ms. Semmer stressed the necessity of having the appropriate personnel on both the safety and health, and workers' compensation sides to ensure success in meeting the SHARE goals. She noted that OWCP had been working to provide outreach and assistance to federal agencies to help them increase their timely filing of workers' compensation forms. She then mentioned both DHS and the VA as agencies with which her office has worked individually.

According to Ms. Semmer, OWCP has numerous tools to assist in returning injured employees to work. Some of the tools she mentioned included:

  • An early nurse intervention program
  • Disability tracking system
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Telephone conferences
  • Periodic role management

Ms. Semmer emphasized the necessary contributions of the employing agency, including timely filing of claims, both injury notices and wage loss claims. She praised the increases in timely filing and decreases in lost production days since the beginning of the SHARE program.

Ms. Semmer also discussed the impetus for reevaluating the formula to use FY 2006 as the base year in calculating lost production day rates. She clarified that the calculation could now account for partial days in hours, rather than rounding up to a whole day.

Finally, Ms. Semmer discussed several of OWCP's plans for future improvements including:

  • Electronic filing of CA-7 forms
  • Reintroducing the CA-3 form in an electronic format
  • Improving the processing of disability claims
  • Improving and reinvigorating the overall OWCP process
  • Updating training and guidance materials
  • Expanding electronic filing of CA-1 and CA-2 forms
  • Improving the information OWCP provides to agencies

Ms. Semmer closed by mentioning an upcoming interagency meeting occurring on May 13 and offered to include FACOSH members in the electronic distribution group, if they were not already included. Mr. Bowling thanked her and introduced Mary Pat Scanlon (DoD) as the next speaker.

DoD Presentation

Ms. Scanlon began her presentation by discussing DoD's home visitation project. The home visits were implemented to determine if employees receiving OWCP payments were able to return to work. In addition to discussing OWCP benefits during the visits, additional topics (when appropriate) included retirement, survivorship counseling, and other issues. The home visitation project resulted in returning some employees to work, terminating the benefits of some, and restructuring the payments of others, all of which reduced the OWCP costs for DoD. Ms. Scanlon noted that every six months a DoD liaison will report on the project.

Ms. Scanlon explained the Pipeline Program, a Defense Safety Oversight Council initiative designed to expedite case review and encourage managers to return employees to work. She mentioned including incentives for managers who might be reluctant to modify a given position to accommodate an injured employee. According to Ms. Scanlon, the program succeeded in removing more than 600 employees from OWCP roles, either through returning them to work or disability retirements, and thereby providing a substantial cost savings in compensation payments.

Finally, Ms. Scanlon provided several graphic examples of OWCP cost savings and reductions. She closed by attributing the increase in timely filing to electronic submissions, and the corresponding benefits to employees and the employer. Mr. Bowling thanked her and introduced Mr. Steve Rosen (DOI) as the next speaker.

DOI Presentation

Mr. Rosen began by describing the diversity and geographic coverage of National Park Service (NPS) worksites. He also enumerated several challenges inherent to the geographically disperse workforce, including more than 40,000 paid employees and approximately 163,000 volunteers. His discussion included illustrations of the cost advantages to returning employees to work as soon as possible.

Mr. Rosen continued his presentation by discussing the challenges of redesigning the workers' compensation program to encourage return-to-work strategies. Some of the challenges included:

  • Promoting an organizational culture that embraced return-to-work strategies and included supervisory accountability for workplace safety and health
  • Creating standard operating procedures, training, and resources
  • Increasing the priority of workers' compensation case management
  • Creating consistent policies and procedures across a highly decentralized organization
  • Eliminating communication barriers
  • Creating a comprehensive training program that accounted for large discrepancies in skill areas
  • Encouraging proactive case management
  • Increasing the accuracy, availability, and utility of the data reporting system
  • Providing technical assistance and reference material
  • Creating investigation services

Among the solutions to the challenges, Mr. Rosen mentioned the following:

  • Issuing guidance on supervisory responsibility and accountability, and proactive case management
  • Creating incentives to improve workplace safety
  • Enhancing data reporting capabilities
  • Creating a tracking system for claims filing and cases
  • Creating an interactive satellite training program
  • Providing online training
  • Contracting for claims investigation
  • Developing the programs and resources to encourage returning employees to work
  • Evaluating workplace practices and job requirements for frequently injured employees
  • Developing strategies and tools to increase the rapport between supervisors and employees

Mr. Rosen also discussed the reasons for divergent decreasing lost production days and increasing workers' compensation expense figures, citing several influencing factors including inflation. He ended his presentation by emphasizing the necessity of developing a relationship between the operations, risk management, and human resources functions. Mr. Bowling next introduced Mr. Michael Hager and Mr. Frank Denny, both from the Veterans Administration (VA).

VA Presentation

Mr. Hager began by emphasizing the need for an effective workers' compensation program as a support for the VA's mission of serving veterans of the military. The VA has several metric-driven initiatives in this area and is continuing to develop numerous processes. He compared the necessity of an effective workers' compensation program to one of the support legs of a three-legged stool, the other two legs being safety, health, and prevention; and total organizational engagement. He then introduced Mr. Denny as the person to present more specific information.

Mr. Denny explained the oversight of the workers' compensation program in his organization and noted that each of the VA's subcomponents had the latitude to decide the correct placement of the program based on that component's needs. He also stated that workers' compensation was an employee right to which they are entitled, and that managers have obligations to both ensure their exercise of that right and proper stewardship of public funds.

According to Mr. Denny, the first part of any return-to-work program is a practice of getting injured employees back into the workplace in either a light duty or alternate duty capacity. He noted that the program efficiency occurred when an organization offered such returns, where medically feasible, to all employees with job-related injuries.

Mr. Denny emphasized the necessity of leadership involvement and the input of labor representatives. He described the structure of his organization's program, including steering committees and strategic plans. He then explained the process for providing weekly progress reports to Mr. Hager.

Mr. Denny provided the Council with a visual representation of the VA's workers' compensation strategic plan and directions for accessing it through the Administration's website. He also described the VA's progress in several measures of the workers' compensation program and provided an overview of the analyses included in the weekly progress reports. Finally, Mr. Denny explained the benefits of using electronic information systems and data analysis to increase the efficiency of workers' compensation case management processes.

Next, Mr. Bowling introduced Mr. Dennis Phelps, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), to make the final presentation on Northrup-Grumman's return-to-work program. Mr. Phelps presented on behalf of Mr. Jim Thornton of Northrup-Grumman, who was unable to attend the meeting.

Northrup-Grumman/IBEW Presentation

Mr. Phelps began by noting that Northrup-Grumman considered its return-to-work program to be robust. Mr. Phelps enumerated several benefits of a well-managed program and explained that the company developed an effective program by embracing the return-to-work program and implementing a managerial commitment to the process.

Mr. Phelps delineated the specifics of Northrup-Grumman's return-to-work program, its development, implementation, information dissemination, management, oversight, and accountability. He noted the psychological and physical benefits of conscientious case management and demonstrating concern for injured employees. He also emphasized the importance of continual program evaluation and noted that careful program design and implementation could result in an efficient return-to-work program that is beneficial for both the employer and employees.

Mr. Bowling thanked Mr. Phelps and extended his gratitude to all of the presenters. He then opened the floor to questions or comments.

Mr. Ralph Dudley, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), asked about any grievance issues with return-to-work programs. Mr. Phelps responded that including labor representatives in the program development process eliminated most, if not all such issues. Mr. Dudley and Mr. Phelps went on to discuss specific labor issues and negotiation processes.

Mr. Bowling asked Ms. Scanlon (DoD) about how the various labor organizations received the DoD's Pipeline Program. She replied that the reception had been favorable and went on to describe several facets of the program beyond the return-to-work portion. Ms. Semmer (OWCP) added that her office had expanded its outreach from federal agencies to include labor organizations, so that the unions better understand the process and its benefits to workers. She offered to provide assistance (to the agencies) with outreach to these organizations.

Mr. Jim Meredith (DOI) complimented the efforts of OWCP and noted the correlation between electronic claims transmission and improving workplace safety.

Mr. Bowling then asked for any other new business. Since there was none, Mr. Bowling asked for input on scheduling the next meeting for October 2008.

Next Meeting and Adjournment

Mr. Bowling suggested that the next FACOSH meeting be scheduled for October 23, 2008 and there was no objection. Mr. Galassi (OSHA) affirmed that the location would be the same and then entered the various meeting documents into the record. Mr. Bowling adjourned the meeting at 3:51 pm.

* 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.

Document Document Description
0002 News Release: FACOSH Meeting Announcement
0003 Oct. 11, 2007 Approved FACOSH Meeting Minutes
0004 Dec. 10, 2007 Federal Register Notice Soliciting FACOSH Membership
0005 Jan. 18, 2008 Federal Register Notice Reopening the Record for FACOSH Nominations
0006 Combined PowerPoints: SHARE, FACOSH Recordkeeping Subcommitte, FEDTARG08, and Federal Agency Training
0007 FEDTARG08 Directive
0008 Approved Federal Agency Training Survey Part I Results
0009 Draft Federal Agency Training Survey Part II
0010 Combined PowerPoints: Return-to-Work Presentations