National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

Minutes of December 16, 2003 Meeting

U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Chair Pete DeLuca opened the meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) at 9:08 a.m. on Tuesday, December 16, 2003. Approximately 45 members of the public were in attendance. 

The following NACOSH members were present:

Ron Hayes Public Founder, Families in Grief Hold Together
Letitia K. Davis, Sc.D Public Director, Occ. Health Surveillance Program,
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Vickie Wells, MS Public Director, Occupational Safety and Health
San Francisco Department of Public Health
Peter DeLuca, JD Public Administrator, Oregon Occupational Safety\
and Health Division
Judith S. Freyman Mgmt. Director, Western Occ. Safety and Health
Operations, ORC, Inc.
Susan Eckerly Mgmt. Vice President, Federal Public Policy,
National Federation of Independent Business
Richard Duffy, M Sc. Labor Assistant to the General President,
International Association of Fire Fighters
Rixio E. Medina Safety Manager, Health and Safety Services
Citgo Petroleum Corporation
James Blessman, MD, MPH Health Assistant Professor, Wayne State University
Julia Faucett, RN, Ph. D. Health Professor, Occupational and Environmental
Health Nursing Program, University of California
Donald Carson Labor Center Director, Hazmat Program
International Union of Operating Engineers

Welcome and Remarks by Chair Mr. Pete DeLuca

NACOSH Chair, Mr. DeLuca called the meeting to order and allowed the members to introduce themselves. The minutes from the previous meeting were approved by the committee. Chair DeLuca indicated that since the last meeting, at the request of the committee, he sent a letter to Dr. Julie Gerberding, the Director of the Centers for Disease and Control. Chair DeLuca indicate that the letter was sent for the purpose of supporting NIOSH and the NIOSH budget. Chair DeLuca informed the committee that Dr. Gerberding sent a letter back to him thanking the committee for their recommendations and gave assurance that NIOSH has a central role in CDC.

Welcome and Remarks by John Henshaw, Assistant Secretary for OSHA

Mr. Henshaw thanked the committee for coming and informed them that the meeting would involve some presentations to some follow-up work regarding the committee workgroups. Mr. Henshaw indicated that OSHA is working on three basic strategies to be effective on the triple bottom line, reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. He informed the committee that OSHA exceeded its goals and inspections, conducting over 39,000 inspections, which is 6 percent more than the agency did in 2002. Mr. Henshaw indicated that OSHA is finding about 10 percent more violations than 5 years ago. He mentioned that more of these violations are serious or willful, indicating that OSHA is visiting the workplaces that need the agency's attention to enforcement. Mr. Henshaw told the committee that OSHA was making progress on the standard setting front by meeting deadlines on the regulatory agenda. He indicated the OSHA issued finals on three standards this year, and are actively working on more than a dozen other rulemaking processes. He further indicated that the agency expects to have finals out soon on commercial diving, fire protection in shipyards, standard improvement projects, and numerous other proposals. Mr. Henshaw mentioned that OSHA's outreach education compliance assistance is a critical component to the agency's effort of achieving the triple bottom line of reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. He indicated that visits to OSHA's web sites shot up dramatically from 2002 to 2003, increasing by 150 percent from the previous year. Mr. Henshaw indicated that partnerships and cooperative programs are a key component of the three-pronged strategy. Mr. Henshaw mentioned that OSHA announced its 1,000th VPP site in September. He indicated that the agency has nearly 700 small businesses participating in the SHAPRs program, which is a recognition program for those who have successfully established effective safety and health systems with the help of consultants through the consultation program. Mr. Henshaw mentioned that OSHA is moving forward on the outreach to Hispanic employers and workers. He indicated that OSHA and NIOSH are going to hold a one-and-a-half day Hispanic summit in Washington in 2004. He told the committee that a variety of immigrant worker safety and health issues will be discussed during that summit. Mr. Henshaw further indicated that elected government officials, federal agencies, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, community-based organizations, nonprofits, industry, academia, and labor members, as well as members of the Mexican government and other interested parties will be invited.

Mr. Henshaw informed the committee that over the last 18 months, OSHA has had a 55 percent increase in professional certification, which will serve to improve credibility and professionalism. Mr. Henshaw indicated that in an effort to develop a formal process of cooperation to ensure effective interaction between OSHA and NIOSH, an OSHA/NIOSH issue exchange group has been formed and will be meeting on a regular basis.

Q and A's

Mr. Hayes asked Mr. Henshaw if a report on MSDS's was forthcoming. Mr. Henshaw indicated that a number of issues regarding MSDS's will soon be added to OSHA's website.

Dr. Faucett commended Mr. Henshaw on the enrollment with VPP, SHARP, and alliances programs and inquired about more details in a future meeting.

Ms. Freyman thanked Mr. Henshaw for an excellent briefing and asked if there were any plans for putting the agency outputs on the Web or in any sort of report that the public can access.

Dr. Davis raised concern that when Mr. Henshaw presents bar charts that he should always start with zero on the Y axis because if that is not done it distorts the relational difference in overtime.

Welcome and Remarks by Dr. Kathleen Rest, Deputy Director, NIOSH

Dr. Rest thanked the committee for the letter that was sent to Dr. Gerberding. She noted the response from Dr. Gerberding and thanked the committee for their support of NIOSH. Dr. Rest mentioned that CDC recently published its first-ever annual report called "The State of CDC," covering the fiscal year 2003. She indicated that NIOSH was proud that a number of their accomplishments were featured prominently throughout the report and gave some examples. In particular, Dr. Rest mentioned that the report highlighted a research partnership that reduced the incidence, severity, and costs of low back and other musculoskeletal injuries to nursing home workers. She also mentioned that the report featured NIOSH work relating to testing and certifying air purifying respirators for first responders to use for protection against chemical/biological agents. Dr. Rest discussed the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), a primary research initiative that was started in 1996. She indicated that NIOSH is discussing how to wrap up NORA 1 and initiate NORA 2. Dr. Rest mentioned that under NORA 21 different research priorities were identified, and there are a number of teams working on implementing these research priorities. Dr. Rest mentioned a new NIOSH initiative, R2P, or "Research to Practice," which is an effort to bridge gaps between those who generate scientific occupational safety and health information and those who use the information to make changes and improvement in the work environment and prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, such as policy makers, employers, managers, workers, occupational safety and health practitioners, and other decision makers. She also mentioned the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, held in Pittsburg last October, and considered to be the premier occupational injury symposium in the country. Dr. Rest discussed NIOSH publication, information, and communication activities. She mentioned the NIOSH e-News, which is a monthly electronic update which features articles on research results, just released publications, information about upcoming projects, and future conferences. Dr. Rest discussed the NIOSH Web page and gave examples of enhancements to the Web page. Dr. Rest also mentioned the new NIOSH/OSHA formal process for collaboration, the Issues Exchange Group. The purpose of this group is to ensure effective communication and interaction between OSHA and NIOSH on a host of issues relating to workplace safety and health that are facing the nation. Dr. Rest concluded her remarks by suggesting how OSHA and NIOSH might collaborate on NIOSH's new National Exposure at Work Survey (NEWS).

Q and A's

Dr. Davis asked if there was some other area for potential collaboration between the agencies using the intervention effectiveness researchers at NIOSH to assist in the OSHA evaluation of these programs. Dr Rest explained that there's lots of opportunity for collaboration on research to practice on intervention effectiveness research expertise. Dr. Davis also inquired about agency budget updates. Dr. Rest explained that NIOSH did not have an official budget yet, but the House and Senate conference language gives NIOSH about 278.8 million.

Mr. Duffy indicated that the Department of Homeland Security is addressing standards for workers. Mr. Duffy raised concern that they are developing standards by neither promulgating them nor enforcing them, but basically by using purse strings, or attempting to use purse strings, through grant monies coming out of the Office of Domestic Preparedness, and other areas there. Mr. Duffy expressed further concern that we have federal organizations and federal agencies that deal with worker safety and health issues, and money is being spent for which there are no direct results, or being redundant on issues that OSHA and NIOSH have been working on for a period of time.

Dr. Faucett remarked about ERC's and how good it is that NIOSH has training funds for such programs. She also commended OSHA on its preparation in terms of professional certification.

Evaluation and Targeting Workgroup Follow-Up

OSHA staff, Richard Fairfax and Dave Schmidt, and NIOSH staff Dawn Castillo, provided detailed follow-up information to the following five NACOSH Evaluation and Targeting Workgroup suggestions from the July 2003 meeting:

  1. Update Worker Health Chart Book on Regular Basis
  2. Adopt Formal Process Among OSHA, NIOSH and BLS to Consider Data Trends Relevant to Surveillance
  3. Improve Targeting Efforts
  4. Develop Better Understanding of Available Databases, Compile Summary of Those Databases, Assemble Researchers Investigating the Quality of Surveillance Databases for Reports
  5. Articulate and Communicate to the Public OSHA's Inspection Criteria

Q and A's

Dr. Faucett requested that the committee get copies of the summary sheets, and thanked the presenters for their responsiveness and detail of their report.

Ms. Freyman asked why they looked to Oregon and Washington for some targeting information. Mr. Schmidt explained that those were the two examples that were brought up in the workgroup.

Dr. Davis indicated that one of the reasons that Washington State was discussed was because they had done some work evaluating their inspection findings when they had targeted based on injury rates with control versus case establishments. Dr. Davis also mentioned that small-scale establishments have a disproportionate number of Latino workers, and that sector of the economy remains a significant challenge where we really need innovative and creative ways to identify and figure out how to reach them.

Ms. Wells mentioned that she would like the presenters to talk a bit more about what they plan to do with the Z tables since it was mentioned as part of the targeting process.

Mr. Hayes commented that in his opinion, federal OSHA could learn a lot from the state of Oregon state programs because Oregon has an excellent program.

Information Dissemination Workgroup Follow-Up

OSHA staff, Monte Lutz, and NIOSH staff, Paul Schulte, presented a slide show and gave detailed follow-up information to the following six NACOSH Information Dissemination Workgroup suggestions from the July 2003 meeting:

  1. Summary of Focus Group Findings to Committee
  2. Encourage Assessment of Information Dissemination Involved in Partnerships and Alliances
  3. Encourage Outreach to assess Delivery, Use and Effectiveness (OSHA/NIOSH)
  4. Expand Outreach to Trade Associations in Hard to Reach High Risk Industries (Survey and Checklist)
  5. Ensure and Formalize Internal Quality Control for Information and Product Development
  6. Formalize the Collaborative Process Between NIOSH and OSHA to Ensure Consistency and Minimize Duplication

Q and A's

Ms. Eckerly asked if the focus groups have been conducted. Mr. Schulte explained that the slide depicted focus groups that have already been conducted, and added that additional focus groups will be conducted. Ms. Eckerly also asked if there was a list of partnerships and alliances on the web. Mr. Lutz explained that partnerships and alliances can be found on the OSHA Web site.

Ms. Freyman asked was any effort put into actually going into a workplace and seeing something happening, or reviewing materials, or is it just an exchange of information. Mr. Lutz explained that he thinks the primary vehicle where that exchange happens is in quarterly implementation meetings. Mr. Lutz added that the people that are actually running those programs could probably provide more direct information. Ms. Freyman raised concern about illiterate workers and asked if they were included in the focus groups and was part of the consideration.

Dr. Davis complimented both agencies on their efforts to get the word out in user-friendly ways in the last several years. She indicated that there has been significant progress. She also indicated that in terms of reaching small businesses, piggy-backing presentation of OSHA and the safety information with the wage and hour information seems to have worked well in Massachusetts.

Ms. Wells indicated that she was pleased to see that OSHA is going to be learning from NIOSH and formalizing their quality control procedures and processes. Ms. Wells asked if there was a plan for formal OSHA policy in this area. Mr. Lutz explained that there's not an official plan right now, but perhaps a plan may be developed in the future.

Dr. Blessman thanked the presenters for their presentation. Dr. Blessman commented that OSHA was better known as an agency than NIOSH. He also commented about effectiveness towards change in behavior. Dr. Blessman mentioned that it might be helpful if information on the Web sites was organized in some way by title.

Hispanic and Immigrant Workers Workgroup Follow-up

OSHA staff, Lee Anne Jillings, and NIOSH staff, Paul Schulte, presented a slide show and gave detailed follow-up information to the following NACOSH Hispanic and Immigrant Workers suggestion from the July 2003 meeting:

  1. Hold OSHA/NIOSH Hispanic Summit

Q and A's

Mr. Hayes asked if any money was set aside in the budget for smaller employers to send their employees. Ms. Jillings indicated that there has been some discussion regarding funding for people who need assistance for travel.

Ms. Wells asked if the agencies planned to invite speakers or put out a call for papers. Ms. Wells also asked if there were plans to publish proceedings. Ms. Jillings explained that they were planning to get enough solid speaker recommendation leads from NACOSH, the Construction Advisory Committee, and other people in the workgroup. Ms. Jillings added that there has been some discussion regarding summarizing information and presentations and place the information on the Web site.

Mr. Carson asked if a location for the summit has been selected. He also suggested that some panels to engage people on what some of the problems are would be helpful. Ms. Jillings explained that the summit would likely be held in the Washington, DC area.

Ms. Freyman wondered what recommendations are there for going forward for expanding the group to include other stakeholders in the final planning of the summit. Ms. Freyman also wondered if the planning group would take recommendations. She also endorsed Mr. Hens haw's recommendation of having a joint ACCSH and NACOSH meeting in conjunction with this summit. Ms. Jillings explained that recommendations will be accepted.

Dr. Faucett indicated that she thought it is important to include people from the early stages of planning the summit and get involved in terms of the buy-in and people participating.

Mr. Medina complimented the presenters for involving the Mexican government in the Summit. He also suggested that perhaps some occupational safety and health specialist from the Pan American Health Organization be involved.

Dr. Davis suggested that the exhibits might be some of the research findings of NORA-funded special populations research. Dr. Davis also mentioned that this summit should also include OSHA talking about enforcement, and not focus entirely on communication, outreach, and training.

Whistleblower Update - OSHA

Mr. Spear, Director of the Office of Investigative Programs, presented a slide show and provided a handout to the committee which reflected the background and history of the program. Mr. Spear provided an organization chart and told the committee that OSHA has about 75 full-time investigators around the country. He indicated that the program has 14 different whistleblower statutes. Mr. Spear indicated that a successful investigation is one that reveals the truth of the situation in a timely manner and correctly applies the law to arrive at a proper case disposition. He also indicated that a proper case disposition is further defined as one that results I appropriate compensation to employees whose rights are violated and no compensation to those employees whose rights were not violated. Mr. Spear indicated that the agency gets a fair number of cases settled when parties to these cases come forward on their on and want to settle them. Mr. Spear provided information on the general process of standard operating procedures for handling cases.

Q and A's

Dr. Faucett asked for the reasons why 64 percent of the cases were dismissed. Mr. Spear explained that every case is different, but they get dismissed at an early stage because the complainant fails to establish a prima facie allegation.

Dr. Blessman raised concern regarding the number of cases dismissed and suggested that perhaps there be some type of educational effort to make people aware of what is needed to have a legitimate complaint.

Dr. Davis mentioned the concern about the lag time in resolving cases and asked about the average lag time in recent years.

Ms. Freyman asked if there was a strain on the resources since the numbers have increased. She also asked if there was an increased attorney involvement. Mr. Spears explained that he didn't think so and that they devoted a lot of resources and attention to educating themselves as quickly as possible.

Employee Fatality Trends - BLS

Mr. William Wiatrowski, Assistant Commissioner for the Occupational Safety and Health Program, presented a slide show and discussed the program in general and more specifically about the fatality data that was put out in September. Mr. Wiatrowski indicated that the program has two basic pieces, the Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, and that has two releases, a summary release of industry counts, rates, and case types, and then a more detailed case and demographics release, which looks at the more detailed, the more serious cases that involve days away from work. He indicated that the agency also has the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, which is a single release-this year, which was in September on work-related fatal injuries. He also indicated that there was sort of a third component to the program involving a series of special studies.

Q and A's

Dr. Davis indicated that it would be more useful for her, rather than having annual state data with annual state data with sparse cell size and very limited information, to have a five-year report where the data involves a very different estimate. She further commented that if we want to use it for local intervention, we need to be able to mine it at the local level.

Chairman DeLuca wondered insofar as most of the numbers are a result of survey data, are there ways that process could be improved, or could we help in some way. Ms. Newman explained that help with funding at the state legislative level would be helpful.

Ms. Freyman asked if it is a huge cost for a state to participate in the survey. Ms. Newman explained that the state components for funding for these data are not usually very clear to legislators. Ms. Newman added that we cannot give a state the federal portion of this unless the state matches it 50/50 under the OSHA Act. So, that's just an unusual situation for states to experience vis-à-vis federal dollars, and for them to experience with such a small pot to lose double what they don't appropriate.

Workplace Violence - NIOSH

Ms. Lynn Jenkins presented a slide show overview about workplace violence and what NIOSH has been doing in this area for quite some time. Ms. Jenkins indicated that workplace violence has a long history. She also indicated that while some occupations and industries have recognized the risk for workplace violence, it has not traditionally been considered an occupational safety and health issue. Ms. Jenkins indicated that workplace violence consists of acts directed towards persons while at work, on duty, or in relationship to their work. She discussed the different types of workplace violence such as: criminal intent violence, violence by disgruntled clients or customers, worker-on worker violence, and violence by co-workers and former co-workers. Ms. Jenkins indicated that the highest rates of workplace homicide occur among the taxicab industry and among taxicab drivers. She also indicated that some of the risk factors associated with workplace violence are contact with the public, the exchange of money, and the delivery of passengers, goods and services. Ms. Jenkins discussed some broad-based strategies for preventing workplace violence. Ms. Jenkins indicated that in recent years, a cadre of experts in workplace violence has emerged. A summary of the workplace violence recommendations was published in "Workplace Violence: A Report to the Nation." This report served as the basis for a congressional initiative for workplace violence prevention. The initiative directs NIOSH to develop an intramural and extramural prevention research program that targets all aspects of workplace violence and coordinates efforts with the Departments of Justice and Labor. Ms. Jenkins indicated that a large part of next year's efforts on workplace violence prevention will involve a best practices conference on workplace violence, in addition to other analytic research efforts. Finally, Ms. Jenkins mentioned that there was a workplace violence page within the NIOSH Web site.

Q and A's

Dr. Davis complimented Ms. Jenkins on a terrific presentation and congratulated her on her work in workplace violence. Dr. Davis also asked if sexual harassment was included in the definition of workplace violence. Ms. Jenkins explained that most of our data systems have not included it that way.

Ms. Freyman asked for a clarification on Ms. Jenkins definition for assaults. The National Crime Victimization Survey, for example, has a definition of assault. That can be even a threat of an assault. Ms. Jenkins went on to explain that some of the numbers do include threat, but they have a definition that they use in their survey to try to solicit where there was a realistic expectation of harm.

Mr. Duffy asked if there was any reason why the instrument or the weapon used in fatal or non-fatal assaults is not ever listed. Ms. Jenkins explained that the National Crime Victimization Survey does include whether there was a weapon involved and the type of weapon used. Ms. Jenkins went on to explain that we don't tend to highlight that data because there are so many other things involved. Mr. Duffy also asked if the agency has looked at, or are going to look at a lot of the post 9/11 security measures done for different reasons and how that has affected violence in those workplaces. Ms. Jenkins explained that the issue has not been addressed.


Dr. Rest thanked the committee members for their feedback on the agenda items. Dr. Rest indicated that a lot of good ideas were generated, some of which can be followed-up through the Issues Exchange Group. Dr. Rest concluded her remarks by thanking everyone who worked on the workgroups.

Mr. Henshaw thanked Dr. Davis, Mr. Medina, and Ms. Freyman for their service to the committee. Mr. Henshaw indicated that there are some new appointments to be made to the committee and therefore we probably will not schedule another meeting until those appointments have been made. Mr. Henshaw mentioned that he hopes that the Hispanic Summit will come about, and thinks that it would be a good idea to have the Advisory Committee as active participant in the summit. Mr. Henshaw closed his remarks by saying that every minute of our days have to be devoted towards finding ways to improve worker safety and health, and with all of us working in combination, we can be more successful.

Chairman DeLuca also thanked all of the members for their hard work and adjourned the meeting.