Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health

June 25, 2009 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

Jordan Barab, Chair
Acting Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health
Department of Labor

William "Chico" McGill, Vice Chair - Labor representative
Director, Government Employees Department
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO

Donald G. Bathurst - Management representative
Chief Administrative Officer
Department of Homeland Security

Wesley Carpenter - Alternate management representative
Acting Director, Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Division
Environmental Protection Agency

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

Milly Rodriquez - Labor representative
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
American Federation of Government Employees

Diane B. Schmitz - Alterante management representative
Director, Office of Occupational Safety and Health
Department of the Interior

Also Participating

Francis Yebesi, FACOSH - Designated Federal Official
Director, Office of Federal Agency Programs
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Department of Labor

Greg Barber
Team Leader, Division of Enforcement and Technical Guidance, Office of Federal Agency Programs
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Department of Labor

Tiffany Brown
Economist, Office of Safety, Health, and Working Conditions
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Department of Labor

Douglas Fitzgerald
Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
Employment Standards Administration
Department of Labor

Tom Galassi
Director, Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Department of Labor

Mikki Holmes
Program Analyst, Office of Federal Agency Programs
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Department of Labor

Jack Longmire, M.D.
Medical Residency Director, Office of Occupational Medicine
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Department of Labor

Kate Newman
Chief, Division of Safety and Health Program Analysis and Control
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Department of Labor

Call to Order and Introductions

Chair, Jordan Barab, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, called the meeting of the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) to order at 1:39 pm on June 25, 2009. Mr. Barab noted that the Council advises the Secretary on all matters affecting the occupational safety and health (OSH) of federal employees and encourages the establishment and maintenance of effective OSH programs for each federal department and agency. Francis Yebesi, Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's), Office of Federal Agency Programs (OFAP), reviewed the emergency evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures. Council members and alternates were then introduced themselves.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Barab certified the accuracy of the November 13, 2009 meeting minutes and entertained a motion to approve the minutes. The motion was made, seconded, and approved without opposition.

Old Business

Safety, Health, and Return-to-Employment (SHARE) Initiative Fiscal Year 2009 Progress

Mr. Barab provided background information on the Safety, Health, and Return-to-Employment (SHARE) Initiative. Mr. Yebesi and Douglas Fitzgerald, Department of Labor (DOL), Employment Standards Administration (ESA), Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), continued with a presentation on the progress of federal agencies in meeting the Initiative's four goals through quarter two of Fiscal Year (FY) 2009.

Mr. Yebesi introduced himself and mentioned that at the November 13, 2009, he and Shelby Hallmark, Acting Assistant Secretary for the ESA and OWCP Director provided an update on the fiscal year (FY) 2008 SHARE performance results. He noted the four SHARE goals: 1) reducing total case rates by at least 3 percent per year, 2) reducing lost time injury and illness case rates by at least 3 percent per year, 3) increasing the timely submission of injury and illness cases by at least 5 percent per year, and 4) lowering lost production day rates by at least 1 percent per year. Mr. Yebesi noted that this year marks the last year of the SHARE extension program.

Mr. Yebesi illustrated the decline in the number of workers' compensation cases in the last nine years. He also noted that the federal government, as a whole, is on track to meet all four SHARE goals for FY 2009. Mr. Yebesi further discussed OSHA-tracked Goals 1 and 2. According to Mr. Yebesi, 13 of the 18 departments are on target to meet or exceed Goal 1. In addition, nine of the 18 departments are on track to meet or exceed Goal 2. He then introduced Douglas Fitzgerald to provide information on the OWCP-tracked Goals 3 and 4.

Mr. Fitzgerald explained that he was substituting for Shelby Hallmark, Director of OWCP. He then noted his satisfaction with the progress of the Initiative and with the performance of the federal agencies in meeting the goals. He described the improvement since FY 2000 in the timely filing of injury claims across the federal government (Goal 3). He added that at the inception of the Initiative in 2003, the federal government had approximately a 50 percent timely filing rate. Agencies are now at nearly an 80 percent timely filing rate through the second quarter of FY 2009. Mr. Fitzgerald remarked that, by and large, the major agencies are doing a good job of improving their timeliness. He noted that although the Departments of Agriculture and Treasury are currently missing their mark, they still have time to reach targeted performance levels by the end of the year. Finally, he commented that the Department of Labor has made 100 percent on its timeliness so far this year.

In regards to Goal 4, Mr. Fitzgerald reported that lost production days have been reduced by roughly 15 days per 100 employees. He also reported that OWCP, in particular, has seen a reduction in lost production days by nearly 30 days per 100 employees.

Mr. Fitzgerald closed his presentation by highlighting some of the efforts underway in OWCP. These include a new strategy to expand electronic sharing of information between the Department of Labor and other federal agencies, as well as introducing electronic filing capability at all agencies to improve operations and speed up service delivery. He also announced the universal accessibility of the claimant query system for all Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) claimants.

Mr. Barab again noted the success of the federal government in meeting the SHARE goals. He then pointed out that FY 2009 marks the end of the three-year SHARE extension, and strategies for establishing a replacement program are currently being explored.


Mr. Barab introduced Mikki Holmes, Program Analyst with OSHA-OFAP, and Kate Newman, Division Chief of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS's) Division of Safety and Health Program Analysis and Control, to give a presentation on OSHA and BLS's joint initiative to collect site-specific injury and illness data from federal-sector establishments. Ms. Newman explained that Tiffany Brown, Economist for the BLS Office of Safety, Health and Working Conditions, would present on her behalf.

Ms. Holmes introduced herself and stated that she would provide an overview of the recordkeeping project. She noted that at the March 27, 2007 FACOSH meeting, BLS made a presentation on how they collect injury and illness data from the private sector. At this meeting, FACOSH created a Subcommittee to look at the federal agency injury and illness recordkeeping process and whether it would be possible to collect this data in a manner similar to the private sector. The Subcommittee recommended that OSHA work with BLS to develop a method for collecting injury and illness data from federal agencies. They also determined that volunteers need to be identified on agency injury and illness recordkeeping logs because 29 CFR Part 1960 considers them to be employees.

The Subcommittee also recommended that OSHA publicize this data collection effort and help the agencies to understand how it defines an establishment. According to Ms. Holmes, OSHA accomplished these two goals. The Subcommittee also emphasized how collecting this data would allow agencies to analyze how well they are performing relative to other agencies, as well as provide the ability to compare statistics across different job series. In addition, OSHA would be able to aggregate the data and look at injury and illness trends by agency establishments and job series, which could enhance both its enforcement and job training efforts. Ms. Holmes also explained that this database would help entities like BLS and NIOSH to conduct more detailed analyses by allowing them to compare the incidence experience of federal agencies to private sector organizations.

In addition, Ms. Holmes noted that OSHA has been working on developing a recordkeeping rule change, the purpose of which would be to establish that OSHA could collect the aforementioned data on an annual basis. The rule change would also include a provision to change the due date of the agency annual reports from January 1 to later in the calendar year to enable agencies to incorporate the injury and illness recordkeeping data into their reports. Additionally, the rule change would reincorporate OSHA's right to access medical records at federal agency establishments. This provision was inadvertently deleted in a prior rule change. Ms. Holmes also noted that the rule change would reiterate that under 29 CFR Part 1960 volunteers are considered federal employees, as well as contract workers who are supervised by federal employees. Therefore, OSH-related injury and illnesses sustained by employees belonging to these groups should be recorded on the OSHA logs. Finally, the rule change would require the OPM job series to be used for the job title section on the Form 301. This would make it easier to analyze data across a job series.

Ms. Holmes explained that the rule change is in the process of being finalized with the DOL Solicitors. After it is finalized it will need to be reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget. Finally, she noted that BLS will collect data from every federal establishment. This is different from the private sector data collection in which a sample of establishments is taken. Ms. Holmes then yielded the floor over to Ms. Brown.

Ms. Brown introduced herself and explained that she would be reviewing the different methods in which federal agencies will be able to submit their OSH-related injury and illness data. According to Ms. Brown, there are two main ways that agencies will be able to submit their data:

  • Internet Data Collection Facility (ICDF)
  • Flat file

Ms. Brown then gave a presentation using screen shots of the ICDF to demonstrate how it will work. She then explained how agencies can submit data through a flat file.

The presentation was concluded with Ms. Holmes clarifying the issue of recording OSH-related injury and illnesses sustained by contractors who are supervised by federal employees. She also provided examples of those who would be considered volunteers, whose injuries and illnesses should be recorded on OSHA logs.

FEDTARG Targeting Inspection Program

Greg Barber, Team Leader for the Division of Enforcement and Technical Guidance, OSHA OFAP, introduced himself and Robert Nester, Safety and Health Specialist, OSHA-OFAP. Mr. Barber then explained that FEDTARG is a nationwide inspection targeting program for workplaces staffed by federal employees or contractors whose work is supervised on a day-to-day basis by federal agency personnel. He also stated that FEDTARG is overseen by the OSHA-OFAP and uses OWCP claims data.

In regards to inspection procedures, Mr. Barber explained that inspections conducted under FEDTARG will be comprehensive and will not focus only on sites that are office environments. He noted that the targeted federal agency worksites are selected based on the lost time cases reported by the agency to OWCP. Mr. Barber also explained that OSHA field offices have vastly different workloads, depending on their location. Offices with adequate resources will be encouraged to expand the FEDTARG program to include establishments on a secondary inspection list. He noted that some federal agency sites were automatically excluded or will be deleted from the list of targeted federal sites. These sites were deleted based upon the number of lost-time cases, the date of their last comprehensive safety and health inspection, and whether they are an OSHA VPP or Strategic Partnership participants.

Mr. Barber then discussed the results of FEDTARG 08. Of the 490 inspections conducted at federal worksites, 109 were FEDTARG inspections. These inspections yielded approximately 189 violations. He noted that four significant cases were also found. Mr. Barab then moved on to the New Business portion of the meeting.

New Business

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Mr. Barab explained that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes $13.6 million to support OSHA's federal and state enforcement activity and improve construction targeting. He noted that this support comes at an important time because ARRA will prompt a big boost in infrastructure projects. OSHA will need to step up its presence to make sure everybody is working safely.

Mr. Barab continued that on May 7, 2009, the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, issued a memorandum to all Cabinet Secretaries urging them to consider their health and safety responsibilities as they make plans for ARRA stimulus projects. She also stated that OSHA will be conducting inspections at these federal worksites, and that OSHA will offer a two-day training course for federal employees working at agencies receiving ARRA funds. Mr. Barab's presentation concluded without any questions or comments.

OSHA Coverage of Federal Civilian Employees Working Overseas

Mr. Yebesi, OSHA, began by noting that Section 19 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act contains special provisions to assure safe and healthy working conditions for federal employees. He also stated that Executive Order 12196 provides additional guidance to federal agencies regarding the occupational safety and health programs for federal employees. Mr. Yebesi also provided background information on the duties delegated to OSHA under Executive Order 12196, and on the definition of "employee" under 29 CFR Part 1960.

He stated that these regulations require federal agency heads to provide occupational protections for their employees wherever they work, including at overseas locations. According to Mr. Yebesi, broadly speaking, OSHA coverage of employees working overseas includes Executive Branch federal employees who are not performing strictly military operations and federal employees who work at sites that may qualify as private employer sites. He explained that OSHA has partnered with OWCP to use their workers' compensation data to evaluate the safety and health performance of federal agencies. Mr. Yebesi noted that OSHA needs information from federal agencies related to employees working overseas in order to provide more accurate information for the Secretary of Labor's report to the President and to more efficiently guide efforts at providing assistance to federal agencies with overseas activities.

Mr. Yebesi noted that the OSHA Office of Federal Agency Programs had previously transmitted questions to FACOSH members so they may begin thinking about the state of federal agency safety and health protections for federal employees working abroad. He also stated that federal agencies would be asked to provide this information in their FY 2009 annual reports. He anticipated that the responses to these questions would assist OSHA in providing an accurate depiction of the state of federal agency safety and health protections for federal employees working overseas. Mr. Yebesi's presentation concluded without any questions or comments.

Emerging Issues Workgroup

Mr. Barab brought up the matter of establishing an Emerging Issues Workgroup in order to take a proactive approach in addressing emerging safety and health issues that may affect federal employees. He suggested the establishment of the Workgroup as a standing subcommittee to enable FACOSH to anticipate and address occupational safety and health issues as they arise, to the extent these issues affect federal employees.

Mr. Barab then entertained a motion to establish the Emerging Issues Workgroup as a standing FACOSH subcommittee. Mr. William "Chico" McGill, IBEW, moved and Mr. Donald Bathurst, U.S. Department of Homeland Security seconded the motion. The FACOSH Emerging Issues Workgroup was established with a unanimous vote by the FACOSH members. Mr. Barab then appointed two Co-Chairs, with Mr. Bathurst serving as the management representative Co-Chair and Mr. McGill serving as the labor representative Co-Chair.

Mr. Barab concluded by stating that the makeup of the Workgroup will be proportionate to the Council itself, with an equal number of federal agency management and labor representatives. He also mentioned plans to reach out to non-member agencies and labor organizations to identify subject matter experts on these issues before the Workgroup.

H1N1 Pandemic Influenza

Mr. Barab recalled an outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus in North America last May, and noted that it tested OSHA's preparedness for a major health emergency. He then introduced Tom Galassi, Director, Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, and Dr. Jack Longmire, Medical Residency Director, Office of Occupational Medicine.

Mr. Galassi provided some background information on the H1N1 influenza outbreak. He noted that worker safety and health was a prominent issue in the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan put forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also highlighted that under Executive Order 12196 all federal agencies are required to operate an occupational safety and health program; they are also required to comply with applicable OSHA safety and health standards.

Mr. Galassi then moved on to discuss OSHA's response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak. He stated that the response could be categorized into three areas:

  • Interagency communications, to ensure situational awareness and engagement in safety and health issues;
  • Generating guidance documents, such as "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic" (referred to as the "Blue Book") and "Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employers" (referred to as the "Purple Book"); and
  • Creating quick cards and fact sheets on how to protect yourself in the workplace, what employers can do to protect workers, high exposure risk occupations, respiratory protection, etc.

Referring to the Blue Book, Mr. Galassi highlighted a risk classification system, breaking the risk level down into classifications from "very high exposure risk" to "low exposure risk." He then stressed the importance for planning for the fall flu season. Mr. Galassi also noted the need for risk communication with front-line workers.

According to Mr. Galassi, the first step for employers is to perform exposure assessment to determine risk-based scalable protection. He noted that agencies need to explore all available controls and that respirators are not the only protection. He stated that the Blue Book is based upon a severe pandemic, but that this is an appropriate starting point and that employers can adjust their plans accordingly.

Mr. Galassi noted the need to evaluate existing controls and work practices, as well as to select and to implement a combination of controls that meet each employer's assessed risk. He also noted that respirators are generally a last resort, and OSHA's policy has been that respirators are used in many circumstances as an interim fix or when other controls are not appropriate. He then mentioned several controls such as social distancing, hygiene, providing information, and training. He stressed that each workplace is unique and needs to determine what would be appropriate based on circumstances in designing their controls.

Mr. Galassi then moved on to discuss lessons learned and efforts upon which OSHA could improve. He mentioned that interagency coordination could be enhanced. He also noted that the network of Designated Agency Safety and Health Officials (DASHOs) and unions could be better utilized. Finally, he stated that OSHA could also build upon efforts to deliver guidance in real time.

In conclusion, Mr. Galassi noted that as pandemic influenza reemerges as a health hazard, it needs to be integrated into agency safety and health programs. He then requested that FACOSH identify common overarching lessons learned from their response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak, as well as gaps in knowledge, resources, and tools; and based on any identified gaps, prioritize needs and recommend actions. He also requested that they document successful practices and policies.

Mr. Barab commended the Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management and the Directorate of Standards and Guidance for their work on the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

Jeff Friday, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), raised a question about the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). He noted that a large number of Department of Homeland Security employees, represented by the NTEU, were prohibited from wearing face masks during the H1N1 influenza outbreak. Mr. Friday noted that NETU was requesting that federal employees be allowed to use face masks in situations where they are being exposed to pandemic flu. He then asked that FACOSH officially recommend that OSHA be the lead agency in determining appropriate federal workplace rules to address situations like the H1N1 pandemic. He requested that this issue be referred to the FACOSH – Emerging Issues Workgroup for consideration, to which Mr. Barab agreed.

Nancy Hughes, American Nurses Association, then raised the concern that some healthcare workers had never been fit-tested and they did not know how to use PPE, which caused them to become infected with H1N1. She also raised concerns about employee access to respirators. Mr. Barab noted that failure to perform fit-testing is a violation of the Respiratory Protection Standard, and OSHA will use whatever tools it has to enforce that law.

Millie Rodriguez, American Federation of Government Employees, questioned what OSHA would be doing to request that agencies prepare for H1N1 influenza by reevaluating their hierarchy of controls. Mr. Galassi responded that OSHA would look at their lessons learned and identify recommendations for the agencies. Mr. McGill posed the question of whether OSHA had looked at the private sector for ideas in preparing for H1N1, and Mr. Galassi stated that OSHA did hope to refer to the private sector in this regard. Mr. Barab then reiterated the need for training and education of workers.

Mr. Barab stated that depending on the progress of the Workgroup, a special FACOSH meeting may be needed in late July or early August to report to the full Council on any recommendations. He then opened up the floor for additional items of new business. Receiving none, Mr. Barab moved on to FACOSH nominations.

FACOSH Nominations

Mr. Barab noted that on June 7, 2009, the terms of three management representatives and two labor representatives expired, and the FACOSH management member from the Department of Agriculture was no longer with the agency, creating an additional member vacancy. He stated that in order to provide additional time for the transition of the new Administration, FACOSH would delay its request for member nominations until later in Calendar Year 2009, or early in Calendar Year 2010. Mr. Barab stated that FACOSH will be seeking to fill the six existing member vacancies, as well as the five vacancies scheduled to occur in June 2010.

Next Meeting and Adjournment

Mr. Barab suggested tentative meeting dates of either October 22 or 29, 2009. He then distributed the group photo taken at the November 13, 2008 FACOSH meeting. Mr. Barab adjourned the meeting at 3:17 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.

Document Document Description
0001 June 8, 2009, Federal Register Notice announcing the meeting
0002 OSHA News Release announcing the meeting
0003 2007 FACOSH Charter
0004 FACOSH Articles of Organization
0005 Approved Meeting Minutes of the November 13, 2008 FACOSH meeting
0006 The combined PowerPoint presentations on SHARE, Federal Agency Recordkeeping Data Collection Efforts, Methods for Federal Agency Data Collection, Federal Targeting Inspection Program, OSHA Coverage of Federal Employees Working Overseas, and OSHA Response to H1N1 Outbreak
0007 Fiscal Year 2008 SHARE Report
0008 FEDTARG 09 Directive
0009 Memo from Scretary Solis to Cabinet Secretaries Regarding OSHA Workplace Activities Related to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
0010 Hierarchy of Objectives for Costs Number 7145, Construction Industry Requirements, Awareness of Major Hazards and Prevention Strategies
0011 FACOSH H1N1 Pandemic Flu Federal WOrker Safety Resolution