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National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety & Health
Minutes of June 6, 2000, Meeting
U.S. Department of Labor
Room N5437 A-D
The meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) was opened by Chair Byron Orton at approximately 9:06 am Tuesday, June 6. He introduced new Public Member Dr. Letitia K. Davis who was selected to replace Dr. Kathleen Rest who resigned in order to join the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Committee members introduced themselves to the public. Safety Member David Heller and Health Member Bonnie Rogers were unable to attend the meeting. About 15 members of the public were present for the opening of the meeting.
The following members were present:
In an opening statement, the Chair noted that in August of 1998 the committee had begun a series of meetings which studied various aspects of OSHA's standards development process and resulted in a comprehensive draft report which was now complete and would be reviewed amd refined during the meeting, and hopefully approved in full. Prior to beginning the agency overviews, members accepted the minutes of the April 12-13 meeting.
In welcoming Charles Jeffress, the Chair thanked the Assistant Secretary of OSHA for always being cooperative and making himself available to the committee. Jeffress summarized the Congressional budget activity related to OSHA saying that the Senate committee had endorsed the President's Budget and authorized an additional $44 million for OSHA whereas the House committee had recommended freezing OSHA at this year's level in addition to transferring $1.7 million from Federal enforcement to fund a public sector enforcement program in New Jersey. He mentioned that there was a rider on the House bill that would prohibit OSHA from spending any money to implement, develop or enforce an ergonomics rule. He said there was no rider yet on the Senate bill but would not predict what might happen on the Senate floor. Jeffress added that in addition to appropriations activity, there was a fair amount of oversight activity going on that was taking a significant amount of staff time. He cited Rep. McIntosh's request for all information related to the use of contractors in the development of the ergonomics standard in an effort to determine whether OSHA had used contractors in work that should have been done by Federal employees while, at the same time, other Congressional committees were studying how more government work could be given to private contractors. He added that many hours of high level staff time were being consumed by these requests and said that Congressional committees had also gone directly to contractors and asked them to furnish all related drafts, correspondence, data and reports on all of the scenarios they may have researched. He expressed concern that in the future it may become difficult for OSHA to find contractors willing to undergo this sort of interrogation. Jeffress said that, in addition to Rep. McIntosh's requests, Senator Bond has asked the Inspector General to look into the use of contractors and Representative Bono has asked the General Accounting Office to look at the procedures used in the ergonomics hearings. In covering agency standards development activities, Jeffress said that the regular hearings on the ergonomics proposal had been concluded but that an additional hearing had been scheduled for July 7 for comment on the economic analysis in relation to the post office, state and local government and a few railroad workers. He added that although the post hearing comment period ends August 10, analysis of the record is an ongoing process and that about 30 people are involved. Jeffress said that the recordkeeping rule was being reviewed within the agency and that three other rules (personal protective equipment payment, tuberculosis and steel erection) were on track and were expected to be published this year as well. With regard to outreach activities, Jeffress said that OSHA had launched the Worker Home Page on the Internet in April which both provides information and allows workers to file complaints electronically. He said that OSHA had also developed and distributed a fact sheet on taxi driver fatalities and held a small business conference. In a final comment, A/S Jeffress said that with respect to enforcement activities, OSHA was actually ahead in the number of inspections that they had hoped to conduct by this point in the year.
Dr. Linda Rosenstock, Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), began her overview of NIOSH activities by mentioning the recent reorganization which produced a new Division of Applied Research and Technology based in Cincinnati and a reorganization of activities at the Headquarters level. She said that, with the retirement of Deputy Brian Hardin, NIOSH had decided to create an additional Deputy position with one being designated the Deputy Director for Management to be located in Atlanta and the other to be designated the Deputy Director for Programs to be located in Washington, D.C. This change is designed to optimize NIOSH functioning which involves working out of six cities with headquarters in two different locations. With regard to appropriations activities, Rosenstock said that NIOSH did no better than OSHA in the House ($5 million below the President's request) which was especially disappointing because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was given an overall increase of approximately $200 million. They fared better in the Senate with a recommended $8 million increase, which was $3 million over that recommended by the President. She mentioned that NIOSH was participating in a June 15-16 conference in Washington, D.C., that would take a comprehensive international look at the disparity in smoking among different working populations, the combination of smoking with other hazardous workplace exposures, and the impact on their families and coworkers. Rosenstock also mentioned that NIOSH was doing a follow-up "best practices" conference in Pittsburgh in October with the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, OSHA and the VA. This conference is planned to overlap with the Second International Occupational Injury Research Symposium also being held in Pittsburgh in October. Further into the future, the mid-course NORA Symposium 2001 has been scheduled for June 27 in Washington, D.C. Rosenstock said that this would represent the five year mark and highlight what progress they have made and whether they need to do any mid-course corrections in the goals, directions and tracking of NORA. She said that the NORA yearly update would soon be available. In closing, Rosenstock expressed her disappointment that resources for safety and health professional training had been stagnant for nearly 20 years and were roughly 40% behind 1980 inflation adjusted dollars compared to the budget overall which is down about 20%. She added that the only new investment had been in the FY 2000 appropriation for a new Education and Resource Center (ERC) which had been awarded to the Hartman Center for Occupational Safety and Health at the University of Iowa.
In answer to a question from the committee about whether attendance at the conference on smoking was by invitation only, Dr. Rosenstock said that for the first meeting they had decided to invite scientific experts but that the public could attend and proceedings would be published. In answer to questions about the status of NIOSH's strategic surveillance plan and chart book, Rosenstock answered that both were about to be published and that the chart book would be put out both in hard copy and on the web. Assistant Secretary Jeffress reminded the committee that there had been interest expressed at previous meetings about having an in-depth discussion about the training and retraining of compliance officers. He offered to have Deputy Director Davis Layne, who is responsible for field operations, take the lead in developing a presentation on the way OSHA does its training, the way it schedules it and what kind of training people get at different stages of their careers. This led to a more thorough discussion of the committee's interest in the subject of training in the following meeting planning session.
During the meeting planning session, Peg Seminario suggested that in view of Dr. Rosenstock's comments on the stagnation of funds for training purposes, as well as the recent report from the Institute of Medicine, it might be useful for the committee to spend the next couple of meetings looking at different aspects of training including internal training of OSHA's compliance officers, and other OSHA training activities related to training workers, employers and trainers. She recommended looking at what NIOSH was doing with respect to professional training, looking at the IOM Report, and giving some thought to what broader alliances might be formed with some professional groups. She suggested that they might be able to develop some recommendations that might actually have some impact on next year's budget proposals. Dr. Rosenstock suggested that the committee might want to invite former NIOSH employee and NACOSH member Jim Merchant, who chaired the Institute of Medicine's report, to brief the committee on this study. There was general agreement that this would be a good idea. Dennis Scullion added that he was much more interested in how OSHA manages its training system -- how OSHA identifies who needs what training, what type of refresher training it uses and how often, how OSHA uses specially trained people for special problems -- than how the training center actually works. Hank Lick agreed with both Dennis's and Peg's comments and said that his earlier suggestion to consider meeting at the OSHA Training Institute was not intended to focus on the course structure per se. He said he was also interested in learning more about some of the training partnerships, such as the one between NASA and the University of South Florida for the health and safety training of professionals. He said he thought the committee should also review what training is available to the small business person and the health and safety representative, and what the delivery mechanism is. Mike Wright added that they were expanding their area of interest so quickly that they would have to be careful not to try to do more in one meeting than could possibly be done. He suggested that at some point the committee needed to review the subject of worker training, as well as the training requirements in various OSHA standards, comprehensively because it was becoming increasingly important. The committee agreed that several meetings should be devoted to the subject of training in much the same way that they had studied the standards development process. Nancy Lessin raised an issue that she had raised at previous meetings -- that if the training of compliance officers was going to be discussed, that a representative of compliance officers should be present to give an opinion on what type of training was most effective and beneficial to them. Dr. Rosenstock suggested that the committee might benefit from a review of the training conference held in October, 1999, on the effectiveness of worker training. Charles Jeffress asked the committee to clarify as much as possible just exactly what they wanted to focus on -- whether it was the broad picture or specific targets. Margaret Carroll said that, although they had talked about the broad management approach, the immediate focus should be on what compliance officers are taught, what they know when hired, what they are equipped with when they go into the workplace to make evauations of safety and health programs now, prior to the implementation of either a safety and health program or ergo rule. Peg Seminario suggested that in a full two-day meeting we might also have time for a report on the IOM Report and a discussion of NIOSH's training activities. Mike Wright summarized his interests into four categories: (1) CSHO training; (2) professional training; (3) voluntary training offered by OSHA to workers and employers through New Directions Training Grants and other similar programs; and (4) improving the effectiveness of the training mandated by OSHA standards. He thought that the first two might be covered in the first two-day meeting. Peg Seminario added that the first meeting might also include an overview of what is done under OSHA's training grant program. Charles Jeffress volunteered to share a task force report summarizing OSHA's outreach activities, many of which involved training, with the committee as soon as it was completed, or a review of it at the next meeting if the report was not yet completed. For future meetings Mike Wright suggested that we add presentations/discussions of joint labor/industry partnership training efforts such as that of Ford and UAW which he said he considered the best in the country for training safety reps and front line managers. He also thought a presentation by MSHA on the training mandated in their act would be helpful as well as a discussion with representatives from the Canadian provinces who put heavy emphasis on worker training.
Subjects for the September 13-14 meeting were determined to be: (1) a half-day session devoted to compliance officer training; (2) a briefing on the Institute of Medicine Report by Jim Merchant (if he is available); (3) a report on NIOSH training efforts and ERCs; (4) a review of the October 1999 training conference, and (5) a review of OSHA's task force on outreach activities. Possible substitutions would include a review of OSHA's training grant program.
Peg Seminario reported on the Safety and Health Programs Workgroup meeting which took place the previous afternoon. She sketched the history of the workgroup for the benefit of the newer members, mentioning that their efforts date back some six years and covered a variety of initiatives that were relatively unconnected. The hope had been that the issuance of a safety and health programs rule would help unify these initiatives -- which included the PEP program (which is no longer used), the use of Form 33 by the consultation program, various partnership and cooperative programs -- and result in the development of an effective evaluation system. With the delay in issuing the proposed rule making it unlikely that any progress will be possible in this Administration, the workgroup felt that there were a number of issues that needed attention in the interim including such things as the "behavioral" approach to safety programs, as well as incentive and disciplinary programs which may discourage the reporting of injuries and illnesses and invalidate the accuracy of the records upon which many of OSHA's actions are based. The workgroup determined that it would be a good idea for OSHA to go back and look at the 1989 Safety and Health Guidelines to see if they should be revised or supplemented to be a more up-to-date statement of Agency policy, and that they should look at the Form 33 in the light of using it as an overall evaluation tool for safety and health programs to see if it should be updated or replaced. The workgroup suggested that NIOSH review available data and literature that is currently available on the issues of reporting and underreporting. The intent would be that the two agencies put together a basis to work from on the subject of determining what is a good safety and health program, and that this should be done immediately whether or not a rule on safety and health programs is ever proposed. Margaret Carroll added that the workgroup was interested in determining what matrix OSHA currently used for evaluating safety and health programs now and what perhaps should be used for future evaluations. She said that emphasis should be on not just "lagging indicators" (injury/illness rates which tell where a group has been) but on "predictors" (leading indicators and sentinel events which predict future rates). Tish Davis added that addressing the issues of reporting and underreporting could also be tied to changes in the recordkeeping rule, and that related research and evaluation would appear to be quite timely. Mike Wright mentioned a recent case in which a company was cited for not having an effective safety and health program under the construction standards, and the criteria was a hybrid combination of elements from the 1989 Guidelines, the PEP program and some things that the area office may have made up. He said there was no mention of worker involvement and that, with regard to controls, personal protective equipment was listed first rather than last. He did not criticize the citation, but said that to be fair to employers OSHA should have consistent criteria.
Charles Jeffress agreed with the committee that OSHA needed to develop an official policy on what the components of a good safety and health program are and that he really did believe that the standards setting process was the best way to do that but that in the interim the 1989 guidelines should be reviewed and that the Form 33 should be revised. He welcomed the committee's work in this area.
The afternoon was devoted to a complete review of the draft report on OSHA's Standards Development Process. At the conclusion of the meeting, those present voted unanimously to accept the document. After the conclusion of the meeting, the two absent members were contacted. Health Member Bonnie Rogers voted to accept the document and Safety Member David J. Heller, who had been unable to attend a number of meetings during the development of the report, abstained from voting. Peg Seminario asked that there be an official reaction from both OSHA and NIOSH at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:12 pm.
Report and Recommendations related to OSHA's Standards Development Process
(see OSHA Public Home Page on the web)
Department of Labor - Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, June 6, 2000
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