NACOSH Recommendation to OSHA and NIOSH June 22,2011

Injury Illness Prevention Programs

NACOSH recommends that OSHA keep the Injury Illness Prevention Program proposed rule as the highest priority in its regulatory agenda by keeping it on a timely schedule as it moves through the regulatory process. NACOSH recommends the following:

  1. OSHA should consider including an evaluation component as part of the proposed Injury Illness Prevention Program.
  2. OSHA, together with NIOSH, should collect the best available evidence to promulgate the final rule. All stakeholders, including but not limited to workers, unions, employers and State Plans should be included in any activity in this area.
  3. NACOSH reiterates its February 14, 2011 recommendation that OSHA, NIOSH and other appropriate parties convene a symposium to address best practices of small, medium and large workplaces on the Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule.


Whereas one of the stated goals of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is the collection of information to "accurately describe the nature of the health and safety problem." To this end the Act provides for regulations to require employers to keep accurate records of, and make periodic reports on work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses, and for the Secretary of Labor to "develop and maintain an effective program of collection, compilation and analyses of occupational safety and health statistics." These records and statistics assist employers, employees and their representatives in addressing safety and health problems at the workplace, aid the government in its efforts to assess problems, prioritize and target initiatives and to evaluate progress, and inform the public about the state of safety and health in the country.

And whereas over the years there have been various efforts undertaken to improve the accuracy, completeness and utility of workplace injury and illness records and safety and health statistics. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences study on "Counting Injuries and Illnesses in the Workplace: Proposals for a Better System" led to an overhaul of the collection of workplace fatality statistics and the development of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, launched in 1992. It also formed the basis for the revised BLS survey to collect more detailed case and demographic data on more serious work-related injuries and illnesses. In the late 1980s, the Keystone National Policy Dialogue on Work-related Illness and Injury Recordkeeping with participants from employer organizations, labor unions, safety and health professions, academia and government produced recommendations for clarifying injury recordkeeping, improving the utility of workplace injury records and improving the reliability, uniformity and timeliness of national occupational injury and illness data. But despite these earlier efforts, problems with occupational injury and illness reporting remain that limit the reliability and utility of this information.

And further whereas the current system for collecting injury and illness data appears to under represent the full impact of workplace injuries and illness across the US. Most recently, this has been demonstrated by the results of the ongoing OSHA National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping. Two major areas of concern are employee populations not currently included in the process and inaccuracy of data for various reasons. In addition, there are major time delays in the collection and compilation of injury and illness data by the government that limit the data's usefulness.

Therefore, NACOSH supports the efforts of OSHA in consultation with NIOSH to modernize the system for collection of injury and illness data to assure that it is timely, complete, accurate and both accessible and useful to employers, employees, responsible government agencies and members of the public.

In addition, the Committee offers the following recommendations on the design and use of recordkeeping and surveillance systems to guide policy decisions and the deployment of resources.

  1. First and foremost, the systems must meet the data collection requirements and goals outlined in various sections of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, such as:
    1. Data are necessary for the enforcement of the Act.
    2. Data are used to develop information regarding the causes and prevention of occupational injuries and illness.
    3. The collection system places minimum burden on employers and avoids unnecessary duplication of effort.
    4. Development and maintenance of an effective program of collection, compilation and analysis of occupational safety and health statistics.
  2. The systems should include as full a representation as possible of the state of injury and illness prevention across the entire US economy. OSHA and NIOSH should leverage complementary data sources on groups not currently covered by OSHA record keeping requirements. Employee groups not currently included (e.g., self-employed, small farms, contingent workers, independent contractors, federal employees) should be added as allowed by law.
  3. OSHA and NIOSH should work with employers and employees to assure completeness and accuracy of injury and illness data. For example,
    1. There are instances where the inaccuracy of data is attributable to insufficient knowledge of reporting requirements and/or criteria. OSHA can develop better training for record keepers and provide ready access to recordkeeping expertise. In addition, small businesses should be encouraged to leverage loss prevention expertise available to them through their insurance carriers.
    2. Provide training and tools to employees about OSHA requirements so they can fully participate in workplace injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping.
    3. OSHA should use all tools available to eliminate incentives to underreport injuries/illness and retaliation against employees for reporting injuries/illness. In addition, OSHA should emphasize that company reward systems for safety should focus on activities aimed at prevention (e.g., near-miss reporting, number of inspections, number of training sessions held, hazard identification, corrective actions completed) and minimize focus on injury rates.
    4. OSHA should work with employers to discourage contractor/vendor selection criteria based solely on injury/illness rates. Complete assessment of a contractor's/vendor's health and safety system should include review of management systems and overall risk reduction activities. Failure to do so could unfairly penalize companies that record accurately and provides unfair advantage to companies that under report.
    5. OSHA should emphasize to employers that maintaining complete and accurate records is a key component of the good faith determination associated with enforcement action.
    6. OSHA should develop a significant outreach program that demonstrates the effective use of injury/illness data to improve safety and health. In addition to protecting workers, this outreach program will demonstrate that action based on good data drives good business decisions.
    7. OSHA and NIOSH should regularly cross-check data accuracy self-reported by employers with other sources of injury data (e.g., NEISS data; Workers Comp data) and encourage employers to cross-check as well.
  4. The systems should provide useful analytical tools for employers and employees (e.g., meaningful benchmarking data by NAICS code and trend analysis).
  5. OSHA should develop and distribute an electronic system for occupational injury and illness recording and reporting.
  6. Data reporting should be electronic to improve efficiency.

Musculoskeletal Disorder Column

Whereas, on February 14, 2011, NACOSH addressed OSHA's proposed rule for a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) column on the OSHA 300 log by recommending "that OSHA take whatever steps are necessary and appropriate to adopt the final rule as soon as possible."

And whereas on April 22, 2011, OSHA replied that it had temporarily withdrawn its proposal from OMB review and would "take more time to listen to stakeholders' concerns" including a series of teleconferences with small businesses.

And further whereas NACOSH notes that the teleconferences have been completed and that the record for receiving additional comments has closed.

Therefore, NACOSH recommends that OSHA evaluate the information received and take final action to issue the rule without further delay. NACOSH Recommendation to OSHA and NIOSH June 22,2011

OSHA's Silica Standard

Whereas NACOSH supports OSHA's efforts to update its standard on occupational exposure to silica. The current standard is many decades old and is insufficient to protect workers from this serious occupational health hazard.

And whereas NACOSH is deeply concerned that the issuance of the proposed silica standard has been delayed by an extended review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which received the draft rule on February 14, 2011, and that there is no schedule that has been publicly set for the completion of this review.

And further whereas it has been 14 years since OSHA initiated the silica rulemaking, and eight years since the small business panel completed its review of the draft silica rule under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), and a proposed rule has yet to be issued.

Therefore NACOSH urges the Secretary of Labor and OSHA to take whatever steps are necessary and possible to issue the proposed silica rule without further delay, so that the public hearings and comment period can commence, and a final silica standard issued to protect workers from this serious workplace hazard. NACOSH Recommendation to OSHA and NIOSH June 22,2011

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Whereas NACOSH acknowledges receipt of the report - Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: OSHA's Role in the Response-and commends OSHA and NIOSH on their response throughout the crisis.

Upon reviewing this report, the Committee therefore recommends that two issues should be pursued by OSHA and NIOSH:

  • OSHA "acknowledged that its PELs are out of date and ... worked with the Unified Command to use the most protective occupational exposure limits (OELs) from NIOSH, AIHA and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), in addition to OSHA's PELs." (page 9). The Committee urges OSHA with input from NIOSH to replace outdated PELs with requirements consistent with current scientific evidence.
  • The Committee is concerned about safety on oil rigs and would like to see the government take steps to prevent a similar explosion on off-shore drilling platforms. Since this is generally beyond OSHA's jurisdiction, we strongly urge OSHA to take all steps necessary to influence the appropriate agencies to take aggressive action to prevent catastrophic incidents in the future. An approach similar to OSHA's National Emphasis Program would be an appropriate process to model.

NIOSH and OSHA Carcinogen Policies

NACOSH Recommendation to OSHA and NIOSH June 22,2011 NACOSH commends NIOSH for establishing a Carcinogen Policy Review Committee. NACOSH notes that this Committee will consider several important subjects including carcinogen classification, lifetime risk targets, and criteria for determining technologic feasibility.

NACOSH recommends that OSHA and NIOSH work closely together to ensure that the two agencies have cancer policies that are consistent with and mutually supportive of each other.

Funding for NIOSH Education and Research Centers (ERC) and
Centers for Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

Whereas NACOSH understands that the administration's current budget proposal for FY 2012 would completely eliminate funding for the NIOSH Education and Research Centers (ERCs) and the NIOSH centers for agriculture, forestry and fishing.

And whereas this would have a significantly harmful effect on national efforts to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

And further whereas these programs are the only ones that provide critical services required by Section 21(a)(l) of the OSH Act to "conduct, directly or by grants or contracts-education programs to provide an adequate supply of qualified personnel to carry out the purposes of this Act."

And further whereas NACOSH strongly supports the continuation of these programs.

Therefore, recommends that the Secretary of Health and Human Services and NIOSH take whatever measures are available to urge as forcefully as possible that funding for these activities to be continued.