STATEMENT OF EDWIN G. FOULKE, JR
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
SUBCOMMITTEE ON LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MARCH 20, 2007
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for the opportunity to present the President's FY 2008 budget request for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The President is requesting $490.3 million for OSHA. The proposed budget will support an FTE level of 2,186 for the coming year. This budget will provide the resources the agency needs to accomplish its goal of reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.
OSHA uses a variety of proven intervention strategies to accomplish its mission. This balanced approach includes: 1) strong, fair, and effective enforcement; 2) safety and health standards and guidance; 3) training and education; and 4) cooperative programs, compliance assistance and outreach.
OSHA's balanced approach is achieving results. The overall workplace injury/illness rate, at 4.6 per 100 employees in 2005, is the lowest since BLS began collecting data in 1973. Since 2002, the injury and illness rate has decreased by more than 13%. The overall fatality rate has fallen by 7% and by 18% among Hispanics since 2001. These key trends highlight the Administration's success in protecting the safety and health of America's working men and women.
Federal and State OSHA programs will conduct just under 90,000 inspections in FY 2008. Through the agency's Site-Specific Targeting Program, OSHA effectively directs its enforcement resources to worksites with the highest rates of injury and illness. The FY 2008 budget request also supports OSHA's Enhanced Enforcement Program. This program focuses on employers who repeatedly ignore their safety and health obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). To effectively ensure compliance, Enhanced Enforcement cases may involve follow-up inspections of the cited workplace, inspections of other worksites of the same employer, more stringent settlement terms, and even Federal summary enforcement orders for recalcitrant employers. In the past three years, OSHA has conducted an average of 460 Enhanced Enforcement Program inspections per year. In FY 2006, there were 101 significant enforcement cases which resulted in proposed penalties against each employer of more than $100,000. In addition, 11 cases were referred for possible criminal prosecution.
OSHA also uses national and local special emphasis programs to target high-risk hazards and industries. The agency presently has five national emphasis programs focusing on amputations, lead, silica, shipbuilding, and trenching. There are an additional 140 local emphasis programs developed by our regional and area offices throughout the country that target other hazards or industries.
As an example of the effectiveness of this approach, in 2003, the agency implemented a new initiative focused on trenching hazards with the goal of reducing the number of occupational injuries and fatalities attributable to cave-in hazards. Educational materials about trenching safety were developed and distributed widely throughout the construction industry. These included more than 400,000 "Quick Cards" containing easy-to-understand safety information, 40,000 posters written in Spanish, and CDs on trenching safety requirements. As part of this coordinated effort, OSHA enforcement increased in regions with significant trenching activity. This effort achieved noticeable results with trenching fatalities declining over 15 percent in the two years after this special emphasis program was implemented.
Standards and Guidance
OSHA continues to make progress on its Regulatory Agenda. Last year, OSHA completed four final standards. OSHA published the Hexavalent Chromium standard, which protects more than 500,000 employees from chromium exposure risks such as lung cancer, skin ulcers and dermatitis. The agency published final rules updating its fire protection rules for shipyards to reflect existing consensus standards and new technologies and issuing assigned protection factors for selecting appropriate respiratory protection to establish industry wide requirements for selecting among different classes of respiratory protection Most recently, the agency issued its final standard addressing electrical installation requirements that will ensure the safe design of electrical systems in buildings, industrial facilities, and other work place settings.
OSHA recently published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit information on amending the Hazard Communication Standard to adopt the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (which will help to make material safety sheets and hazard warning labels consistent with those of other countries and thus facilitate the global trade of goods and transmission of hazard information.) The agency is also soliciting ideas for perfecting existing standards under Phase III of OSHA's Standards Improvement Project, which is an effort to remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health requirements. Public hearings were held this past year on a proposed rule for electric power transmission and distribution.
Recently, OSHA announced a series of stakeholder meetings on ionizing radiation. Rulemaking actions planned for the coming year include an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Power Presses; and proposed standards on explosives, cranes and derricks, and general working conditions in shipyards. OSHA will complete two Regulatory Flexibility Act Section 610 "lookback" studies in 2007 which deal with the Excavations and Lead in Construction standards.
OSHA expects to issue a final rule on the issue of payment for personal protective equipment (PPE) this year. The vast majority of employers -- approximately 95% -- already pay for most kinds of PPE. However, there are requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act that must be met before an effective final rule can be published. OSHA is working through these issues to ensure that the final rule will provide the necessary protection to workers.
In addition to regulatory activities, OSHA develops guidance to help protect employees. Last month, OSHA issued Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health worked closely with OSHA on this important document. This guidance alerts employers, employees, and the health community to the possible severe effects that a pandemic flu can have on workplaces. Recently, OSHA issued other guidance including: information on the dangers of abrasive blasting in shipyards; motor vehicle safety; design of buildings and fire protection systems to enhance fire service; safe use of Glutaraldehyde in health care operations; and small business compliance assistance for Hexavalent Chromium.
OSHA continues to make strides in protecting the safety and health of those involved in the Nation's response to emergencies. We have successfully implemented the recommendations in the White House report Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, including the publication of a Hurricane E-matrix which provides information on the most significant and common hazards that response and recovery workers may encounter.
Compliance Assistance, Cooperative Programs, and Information
OSHA is requesting an additional $4.6 million and 13 FTE in FY 2008 to expand its highly effective and recognized Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). These funds will enable OSHA to approve an anticipated 216 new worksites for the Federal VPP. With almost 1,300 Federal worksites projected in the public and private sectors by the end of FY 2007, VPP has become OSHA's most successful cooperative program. Typically, participants in VPP achieve injury and illness rates that are more than 50 percent below the national average for their respective industries. The benefits are clear - more of their employees are going home safe and healthy at the end of the workday, while employers benefit from lower workers' compensation costs, higher productivity, and improved competitiveness.
Both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) have chosen VPP to improve their safety and health performance. The USPS' more than 100 VPP sites have experienced a 13 percent lower injury and illness rate compared to their non-participating facilities. This has resulted in 199 fewer injuries and cost savings of $410,000 in workers' compensation costs. Increased funding for VPP will provide the resources needed to adequately respond to the growing demand for this highly successful program.
OSHA's Strategic Partnership Program supports voluntary, cooperative relationships between the agency and groups of employers, employees, employee representatives and other interested stakeholders. Currently OSHA has more than 150 active partnerships in a wide variety of industries. More than one million employees have benefited from this program since its inception. For example, in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, OSHA forged a partnership with 17 construction contractors working on the Fox Energy Center Project. Managers and all employees working at the site received training focused on the hazards that could be encountered on the project. The injury/illness rate at that site is 63 percent below the national average for the construction industry. This is the kind of achievement that marks strategic partnerships as a success.
The Alliance Program deals with groups committed to safety and health including businesses, trade or professional organizations, unions and educational institutions. Alliances leverage resources and expertise of the participants to develop compliance assistance tools and to share information with their stakeholders in order to reduce occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities.
OSHA also provides extensive compliance assistance and other information on its Web site, including etools, standards and guidance, copies of the OSHA posters and quick cards, safety and health topics pages. The agency anticipates approximately one billion "hits" this year.
OSHA strives to become "The Resource" that all employers and employees will turn to for answers about workplace safety and health issues. OSHA provides technical training to Federal and State compliance officers, state consultants, employees of other Federal agencies as well as private sector employees and employers. Last year, OSHA trained almost 500,000 people through OSHA's Training Institute or outreach and education centers around the country. Many of these participants subsequently served as instructors themselves at their respective workplaces.
OSHA's budget is a taxpayer investment in safeguarding the lives of America's working men and women. The benefits are uniquely measured in terms of the number of lives saved, injuries prevented and illnesses avoided. Because the life of every employee is precious, OSHA will continue to use its resources wisely to accomplish its mission of saving lives and reducing injuries and illnesses. Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to appear today and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.