February 14, 2011
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20210
Dear Dr. Michaels:
The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) held a meeting in Washington, DC on January 19-20,2011. A quorum of nine members was present. I am conveying to you the following decisions and recommendations made by the Committee as authorized by Section 7(a)(l) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
At its January 19-20,2011 meeting NACOSH established a workgroup to advise OSHA and NIOSH on the rulemaking initiative on Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. The key questions for this workgroup will be:
- How can OSHA best provide guidance, direction, and tools to allow employers under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act to meet their responsibilities under Section S(a)(l): "to furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employee"?
- What are the best practices in a successful injury and illness prevention program?
- What is the best way to implement these programs to address worker and employer needs and concerns?
- What is the best way to evaluate programs under the proposed rule?
Also at the January 19-20,2011 NACOSH meeting the quorum of NACOSH members present unanimously adopted the following recommendations to OSHA and NIOSH:
- NACOSH Recommendations on Injury and Illness Prevention Programs
- NACOSH strongly recommends the timely promulgation of the Injury and Illness Prevention rule. The implementation of such a rule is critical for employers to fulfill their statutory obligations under the OSH Act "to furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."[OSHA Act Section S(a)l] This proposed rule will lead more employers to develop and implement high quality and effective health and safety programs.
- To aid in national dialogue on this important issue, NACOSH recommends that OSHA, NIOSH and other appropriate parties convene a symposium to address best practices of small, medium and large workplaces on the Illness and Illness Prevention Program rule. NACOSH further recommends that such a symposium not delay the agency's commitment to initiate the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review in June, 2011.
- NACOSH recommendation on work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs):
- WMSDs account for more than 30% of all worker compensation claims and more than 40% of all worker compensation costs.
- Preventing these costly WMSDs requires an understanding of where and when they occur in individual workplaces and among industries and occupational groups.
- The OSHA 300 logs currently provide no adequate way to determine the number, rate or distribution of WMSDs within workplaces, industries or occupational groups.
- Although employers are already required to report WMSDs on the OSHA 300 logs, employer reporting of WMSDs on a specific column would be an effective tool for identifymg their causes and implementing strategies and programs for their prevention.
- OSHA has concluded that "having aggregate data on WMSDs may help employers and workers track these injuries at individual workplaces, and that the Nation's occupational injury and illness information may benefit from improved statistics on WMSDs."
- In order to accomplish this objective, in 2002 OSHA adopted a final recordkeeping rule requiring, in part, that the OSHA 300 logs contain a specific WMSD column. In 2003 OSHA adopted another rule removing this requirement. Most recently OSHA has reconsidered this matter and has proposed that the requirement for WMSD column on the OSHA 300 log be reestablished. Public comment on this proposal ended in March 2010. OSHA's intent to adopt the final rule is included in the Agency's Unified Regulatory Agenda but no action on the final rule has yet been taken.
- NACOSH agrees that the recording of WMSDs on a specific column on the OSHA 300 logs would support actions that would enhance efforts to prevent these injuries and their associated financial and human costs. NACOSH commends OSHA on its efforts to adopt a final rule with this requirement. NACOSH is concerned that a lengthy delay in taking this action is detrimental to public health and safety. NACOSH therefore recommends that OSHA take whatever steps are necessary and appropriate to adopt the final rule as soon as possible.
Finally, NACOSH further requests that OSHA and NIOSH provide copies of their "lessons learned" evaluations of the Gulf Oil Spill response to NACOSH as soon as they are available.
The Committee would appreciate your serious consideration of these recommendations and may be reached at the following address:
NACOSH Designated Federal Officer
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210.
Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH
Chairman, National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
cc: Dr. John Howard, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
NACOSH Committee Members