Minutes of July 14, 2005 Meeting

U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N4437

Acting Chair Catherine L. Thomsen opened the meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 14, 2005. Approximately 80 members of the public were in attendance. The following NACOSH members were present:

CATHERINE L. THOMSEN, M.P.H. Public Representative
JAMES BLESSMAN, M.D., M.P.H Health Representative


Labor Representative


Management Representative


Public Representative


Labor Representative


Safety Representative


Management Representative
VICKIE WELLS, M.S. Public Representative


Ms. Thomsen called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone. Mr. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Mr. Hearl, Chief of Staff, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), welcomed and thanked the Committee for coming to the meeting.


The Committee members and Committee Contacts introduced themselves. The Committee subsequently approved the minutes of the meeting of the December 8, 2004, meeting.


Mr. Snare briefly mentioned the three NACOSH workgroups; Motor Vehicle Safety, Emergency Response, and Hispanic Outreach. He indicated that the workgroups’ gave recommendations at the December 2004, meeting and indicated that responses would be made by detailed presentations from OSHA and NIOSH staff during the meeting.

Mr. Snare went on to discuss OSHA’s overall balanced approach and management strategy that are used as guidelines in a lot of activities. Mr. Snare mentioned that the balanced approach has been developed over the past years and is a model for what OSHA does as an agency to achieve its goals. Mr. Snare indicated that the model includes three prongs: 1. Outreach, education, and compliance assistance; 2. Cooperative and voluntary programs; and 3. Strong, fair, and effective enforcement. He further mentioned that workplace injuries and illnesses and lost workday rates have been on the downward trend as a result of the balanced approach.

Mr. Snare indicated that the fiscal year 2006 budget was increased from the previous fiscal year. He mentioned that for OSHA, the administration proposed a $467 million budget which is a $2.8 million increase from the previous fiscal year. Mr. Snare indicated that the increase will support OSHA’s existing programs and maintain its staff at 2,208.

Mr. Snare told the Committee that in addition to the OSHA Training Institute, OSHA has been expanding and building in training efforts with OSHA sanctioned education centers across the country. Mr. Snare indicated that OSHA is continuing its outreach to Hispanic workers. He further mentioned that OSHA has 10 national and 55 regional area alliances with the Hispanic focus. Mr. Snare told the Committee that OSHA exceeded its inspection goal in fiscal year 2004 and is on track to do so this year. He further mentioned that as a result of OSHA’s enforcement efforts combined with compliance assistance, and outreach education, there are fewer injuries and illnesses, and fewer deaths in the workplace. Mr. Snare concluded his remarks by thanking the Committee for their time and effort.


Mr. Stanley mentioned that over the years, there has been a rash of serious injuries in areas referred to as in-plant railroads. Mr. Stanley asked how OSHA addresses large companies that have railroad operations within their corporate boundaries where OSHA has almost no regulations or standards that cover those situations. Mr. Snare responded that OSHA could go the worksite and conduct inspections or issue citations under the General Duty Clause in some situations. Mr. Snare further indicated that OSHA would focus all of its resources to try to help resolve and prevent potential problem areas.

Mr. McMillan alluded to recent terrorist activities and asked if partnerships continue to work between NIOSH and EPA and Homeland Security and all other parties. Mr. Snare indicated that OSHA’s role has been institutionalized in the National Response Plan that all federal agencies participate in and was done at the direction of Homeland Security. Mr. Snare further responded that there is a worker safety and health annex that OSHA is the lead agency and has lead responsibility for insuring safety and health for the first responders, first receivers at the hospital, or however the situation may be defined.

Ms. Thomsen mentioned the enhancements to data collection and analysis, and inquired as to what kinds of changes might be made in the data that are collected and the turnaround time. Mr. Snare responded that the difficulty is that the agency gets the data from BLS 13 months late. Mr. Snare further mentioned that the agency is trying to come up with ways to get the data quicker to help evaluate the effectiveness of our programs to see if we need to make a change or focus resources in other areas.

Ms. Wells mentioned that John Henshaw had implemented some programs at OSHA to try and encourage both the industrial hygienist and the safety professionals to become certified, and asked Mr. Snare if those programs are continuing and what type of success has the agency experienced. Mr. Snare responded affirmatively and indicated that the agency continues to promote certification of its employees. Mr. Snare further mentioned that the certification results in great value to the employees and the community that they serve.

Mr. Sommers indicated that law enforcement officers are the first responders and asked Mr. Snare was any consideration given to the color and suitability of personal protective equipment required by safety and health standards. Mr. Snare responded that the agency and others involved in Homeland Security are learning lessons and are looking at situations and develop ways to resolve problems that affect law enforcement activities. Mr. Hearl added that NIOSH has held stakeholder meetings to look for input on the kinds of criteria that can be used to put together a standard for certification for law enforcement equipment.

Ms. Thomsen asked Mr. Snare if he had any indication that he would be potentially appointed as the Assistant Secretary for OSHA. Mr. Snare responded that he serves at the pleasure of the Secretary of Labor.


Mr. Hearl started by mentioning the items he would cover that included NIOSH updates on: the budget; personnel changes; the National Academy of Sciences review of the NIOSH program; the initiative Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce; National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory certifications; and partnerships, awards, and publications.

The NIOSH 2005 enacted budget was $286 million, some of which was removed by CDC for business services related to the CDC Futures initiative. The NIOSH FY 2006 President's budget was $285.9 million, noting our good PART score as justification for maintaining the level funding. The committee markup from the House on the NIOSH budget was for $251 million representing a $34.8 million decrease that was transferred to the CDC for business consolidation purposes.

Personnel updates included: Dr. Sid Soderholm joined the Office of the Director as Acting Coordinator for the National Occupational Research Agenda; Ed Dacey was named Associate Director for Data Management and Information Technology; Dr. Larry Reed accepted the position of Deputy Director in the Division of Surveillance Hazard Evaluation and Field Studies; Richard Metzler, who was the Director of the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, retired and Les Boord was appointed Acting Director of NPPTL; Dr. Weissman was appointed permanent Director of the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies; and Denzil Slaughter was appointed Deputy Director of the Health Effects Laboratory Division, replacing Nancy Bollinger who retired.

NIOSH commissioned the National Academy of Sciences to review our research program for impact and relevance. A Framework Committee has been established to oversee the entire five-year project. Details are available on the National Academies' Web site that also can be reached through the NIOSH Web site ( The Committee will be reviewing 15 different NIOSH program areas over the next five years. The first programs scheduled for evaluation include Hearing Loss Prevention, Mining Research, and Health-Related Energy Research.

Next, Mr. Hearl provided an update on Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce, the initiative that Dr. Greg Wagner still leads. Through collaboration with the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, we sponsored a symposium in May that was titled, "Work place Health Protection and Health Promotion - What Will it Take to do Both Well?" NIOSH also intended to award one to three new cooperative agreements for Centers of Excellence that would be established to develop cooperative programs across different professional disciplines to simulate integration of workplace health protection and workplace health promotion.

The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory had issued --for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) equipment-- four approvals to four manufacturers for air purifying respirators, in addition to the 36 existing approvals for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs). We also had 20 retrofit approvals for bringing SCBA equipment up to SBRN standards. CBRN escape devices were expected to be approved soon. New CBRN standards also were under development.

New partnerships included: a technology assessment agreement with the Spokane Intercollegiate Research Center to advance the NIOSH program for research and practice; a three-year agreement with the National Safety Council to facilitate transfer and implementation of effective workplace injury prevention measures; an agreement with the American Industrial Hygiene Association, again advancing the protection of workers and promote transfer of research; and an agreement with Georgetown University, the Center for Business and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, to foster integration of occupational safety and health with economic research and university-level business school curricula. We also have been meeting regularly with our colleagues at OSHA through the NIOSH/OSHA Information Exchange Group. We have made a number of contacts with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and we have a joint Web site with the European Agency for Safety and Health that brings together resources available from various safety and health organizations around the globe.

Mr. Hearl mentioned several awards, including the President’s Award issued by the American Society of Safety Engineers that was presented to NIOSH Director John Howard for his extraordinary support for the society and his leadership with NIOSH and ASSE cooperative agreements. Mr. Hearl also mentioned: the Alice Hamilton Awards winners who were honored for outstanding research papers that were produced during 2004; the James Keogh Award winner for Outstanding Service in Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. Rosemary Sokas; and the winners of the first Bullard-Sherwood Research to Practice Award to recognize projects which have successfully translated research findings through knowledge, intervention, or technology to practice. Finally, he mentioned the Shepard Award for the best article produced in research throughout the entire Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year the winner was a manuscript by six NIOSH authors and an author from another Center in CDC.

A large number of publications were issued by NIOSH since December 2004. The new publications were provided to NACOSH members and attendees on CD-ROMs. Examples included the “Mixed Exposures Research Agenda,” “Working Together for Safety, a State Team Approach to Preventing Occupational Safety and Health Injuries in Young People,” and “Contact Lens Use in the Chemical Environment.” Mr. Hearl concluded by mentioning the OMB Peer Review Bulletin that requires us to post on the Web what we consider to be highly influential scientific information disseminations six months before we anticipate issuing the documents. Three out of the five items listed by the Department of Health and Human Services were NIOSH documents.


Mr. Holtshouser asked if NIOSH was aware of any incidences of injury, illness or nanoparticle related disease that have occurred the workplace. Mr. Hearl indicated that he was not sure if there was any epidemiological data that would demonstrate nanoparticles as having produced disease at this point.

Ms. Wells asked for more detail on the NIOSH budget and transfer of NIOSH functions. Mr. Hearl mentioned that some functions such as IT work has been transferred to CDC as well as folks involved in personnel functions, human resources.


Mr. Soderholm began his presentation by indicating that the National Occupational Research Agenda has actually been going on in NIOSH for 10 years and is due for a reinvention. Mr. Soderholm explained that NORA is a national partnership effort to define and conduct priority research. Mr. Soderholm further mentioned that a national research agenda was created through discussions with stakeholders in 1995and 1996. Mr. Soderholm indicated that the 21 priority areas were identified for NORA. Mr. Soderholm also mentioned that NIOSH was collaborating with OSHA in NORA efforts. Mr. Soderholm concluded his remarks by indicating that a NORA symposium will be held in Washington, D.C. on April 18, 2006.


Ms. Pratt gave a side show presentation that responded to the workgroup recommendations. (See attached responses)


Mr. Yebesi and Ms. Baron gave slide show presentations that responded to the workgroup recommendations. (See attached responses)


Mr. Ferris and Mr. Kiefer gave slide show presentations that responded to the workgroup recommendations. (See attached responses)


Mr. Fairfax began his presentation by indicating that OSHA budgeted or planned 37,700 inspections for this year based on the number of compliance options. Mr. Fairfax mentioned that the agency will probably end up with around 39,000 inspections for this fiscal year. He indicated that in previous five years, the majority of inspections were unprogrammed, which include complaints, fatalities, and referrals. Mr. Fairfax further added that currently the majority of inspections are programmed which are the ones targeted through national emphasis programs or local type programs. Mr. Fairfax mentioned that the percentage of serious violations is higher than ever before. Mr. Fairfax indicated that OSHA is still working on releasing the site-specific targeting system. The site-specific targeted system is based on the elevated injury and illness rates and is tied to the OSHA data initiative where establishments are targeted based on elevated injury and illness rates.


Mr. Stanley asked if the agency had any concerning Hispanic workers not reporting accidents because of fear of losing their jobs with some employers. Mr. Fairfax responded that there is some concern and mentioned that the agency is looking into national and local emphasis programs, and reviewing data to address such issues.

Ms. Wells asked for more information regarding the MSDS initiative. Mr. Fairfax mentioned that the agency was looking at manufacturers of the materials to do a better job of developing accurate MSDS.


Paula White began her presentation by indicating the alliance program is a program that was designed so that the agency would have different opportunities to work with both trade associations, professional groups, individual corporations and other kinds of groups to address safety and health issues. Ms. White further mentioned that alliance programs enables groups to develop new cooperative and trust-based relationships with OSHA. Ms. White also gave several examples of OSHA’s alliances and partnerships. The committee expressed appreciation for OSHA’s alliance and partnership programs.


Ms. Dorothy Dougherty began her presentation by briefing the committee on the regulatory agenda and process. Ms. Dougherty indicated that the regulatory process is very complex and time consuming. Ms. Dougherty mentioned that some of the health issues on the agenda were assigned protection factors, chrome, silica, beryllium, hearing conservation, emergency response and preparedness, and hazard communication.


Mr. Thomsen mentioned that the committee needed to make a decision about continuing the work of the issues related to the workgroups. She further mentioned that at a minimum the committee would like to go back to the workgroups and digest some of the information that was received from the agencies in response to the workgroup suggestions. Ms. Thomsen indicated that the committee would also look at any additional items that might need attention or additional data to be collected. Dr. Blessman mentioned that the committee needed to hear from the agency Directors regarding the direction of the committee. Mr. Snare and Mr. Hearl indicated that they believe that all of the areas that the committee was currently addressing were important and should be continued. Mr. Stanley asked Mr. Snare if perhaps the committee could hear from OSHA’s regional administrators regarding their perspective from the field.


Mr. Snare mentioned that the meeting was very productive and the presentations and discussions were very good. Mr. Snare mentioned that he looks forward to having further discussions and dialogue as the workgroups continue their efforts. Mr. Hearl also thanked the committee for the thoughtful discussions and thanked both OSHA and NIOSH presenters. Mr. Hearl also thanked the acting chair, Ms. Thomsen for her leadership. Ms. Thomsen adjoined the meeting.