Congressional Testimonies - (Archived) Table of Contents|
| Information Date:||03/24/1994|
| Presented To:||Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.|
| Speaker:||Dear, Joseph A.|
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Fiscal Year 1995 appropriation request. The Fiscal Year 1995 budget requests a total of $320,903,000 and 2,378 FTE -- a net increase of $23,659,000 and 61 FTE from 1994. This reflects a significant increase in the Department's commitment to enforcing the safety and health laws, as well as OSHA's share of the government-wide reductions intended to streamline government and reduce administrative expenses.
Secretary Reich and I are committed to building a revitalized OSHA, rededicated to its mission of saving lives, preventing serious injuries and protecting the health and safety of America's workers. In keeping with these vital goals, we are requesting a program increase of $15,455,000 and 91 FTE to support OSHA's portion of the Department's enforcement initiative. Three major areas are covered by this initiative. First, the request will enable OSHA to strengthen its inspection enforcement activity in several ways, including: adding front-line compliance officers and investigators; focusing on those employers who fail to comply with safety and health regulations, including pursuit of litigation where appropriate; making maximum use of information technology to increase the productivity of our compliance officers and improve overall enforcement efforts; and increasing funding for OSHA's State plan partners to improve the effectiveness of their inspection programs. Second, the request will enable OSHA to increase safety and health training opportunities. Proposed activities in this area include: increased funding for an additional 13 training and education grants to the private sector, including indirect funding from a proposed language change to utilize private sector tuition money at the Training Institute for these grants; and an increase in local education centers providing safety and health training sanctioned by OSHA. Third, the initiative includes enhancements for the standards promulgation activity, which will enable the agency to adhere to its new regulatory prioritization schedule, respond to emerging issues, and support increased standards development and regulatory studies.
The request also contains an increase of $3,270,000 and four FTE to support an improvement in data available to OSHA. This increase will provide the initial resources for a comprehensive data collection system that will enable the agency to focus on employers, worksites and work practices that pose the highest risk of occupational injury and illness. This system will include establishment-specific data from the OSHA logs that employers are already required to maintain. Establishment profiles will be developed for targeting purposes.
The requested increases, combined with our reinvention efforts, will enable us to implement improvements in many areas. Inspections and standard setting will be directed to the most serious hazards. We are in the process of revising the Field Operations Manual in order to streamline the inspection and citation process to remove barriers to prompt and efficient enforcement. We are also looking at ways to streamline the lengthy standards development process. While strong enforcement and effective standards come first, we will also develop new and innovative ways to encourage cooperation between workers and employers, and educate workers and employers to create the safest and healthiest workplaces possible.
In Fiscal Year 1995 we plan to increase the number of onsite inspections and also expand other non-inspection enforcement activities. Overall, we anticipate approximately 42,900 Federal enforcement inspections in 1995. State safety and health inspectors in plan states are expected to conduct an additional 67,100 worksite inspections. Effective enforcement will include increased use of the egregious policy, and streamlining of this policy in consultation with the Solicitor of Labor. We will make increased use of criminal penalties where appropriate. OSHA will continue to focus on the deterrent effect of individual inspections by pursuing corporate-wide settlement agreements, which extend abatement requirements over entire multi-worksite corporations. The agency anticipates approximately 30 of these agreements in 1995. Enforcement efforts will be targeted where they will do the most good. This will include expanded use of pilot projects which use workers' compensation data to target the most hazardous workplaces in a state.
In previous years, OSHA relied primarily on the number of inspections conducted to measure its effectiveness. While the onsite inspection program continues to be an important component of the enforcement program, we are now looking at ways to measure the full range of agency intervention efforts. Programs designed to encourage employer voluntary compliance will be given added weight. The agency's customer service improvement plan will inform employees of opportunities to file complaints and obtain quick abatement in situations that may not require an onsite inspection.
State plans will promulgate and enforce new safety and health standards, and strengthen their enforcement and litigation strategies, in keeping with changes in the Federal program. The agency's State plan monitoring system will be fully operational, improving the evaluation of state programs.
OSHA's technical support staff continues to provide laboratory services, engineering expertise and regulatory analyses to support all aspects of the program. In 1995 we will implement an Information Technology Plan designed to enhance the technological environment in which the agency operates. This plan will coordinate the agency's data venues into a single information source to better serve the agency and the public. The agency's medical support staff will address many new and complex issues facing the health care industry. The development of a proposed ergonomics standard in 1994 should significantly increase requests for ergonomics analysis, as well as requests for information concerning ergonomics issues.
Designated state agencies will conduct approximately 26,250 onsite consultation visits to small employers under programs funded largely by OSHA. States will be encouraged to increase participation in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, which recognizes small worksites that have established effective safety and health programs. Areas of emphasis in the consultation program are expected to include confined space entry, process safety management, tuberculosis exposure, and bloodborne pathogens. The agency expects that the number of worksites participating in Voluntary Protection Programs, which recognize exemplary safety and health management programs, will continue to grow.
OSHA will continue to administer and maintain the national injury and illness recordkeeping system, providing guidance to both the public and private sectors. The final regulation for recordkeeping will be promulgated in 1995, and training of OSHA personnel, state plan personnel, and the public will begin. Consistent with government-wide reinvention efforts, OSHA will experiment with new approaches to improve agency performance. These will include customer service improvement efforts, such as establishing a single source for standards and policy interpretations that customers can use, and decreasing backlogs for 11(c) discrimination complaints and VPP applications.
In keeping with our goal of strengthening OSHA, Secretary Reich and I are supporting rapid legislative action to reform the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The OSH Act has been effective in saving lives, as demonstrated by the steady decline in fatality rates over the past twenty years. Despite this and many other achievements, work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities continue to inflict tremendous pain and suffering, and impose substantial economic costs on society. Most of these tragedies could be prevented with effective worker-management involvement. We urge the Congress to strengthen the tools which the agency now has to empower employers and employees to reduce or eliminate hazards from their workplaces.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This concludes my statement. I will be pleased to respond to any questions.
Joseph A. Dear was confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health by the United States Senate on November 8, 1993. As head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mr. Dear is responsible for administering and enforcing the basic provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
Prior to his nomination as Assistant Secretary, Mr. Dear served as director of the Department of Labor and Industries in Washington State from July 1987 until early 1993. He was appointed to this post after having served as deputy director from January 1985 until July 1987. In his position as director, Mr. Dear was responsible for both workplace safety and health, and workers' compensation programs. With the help of labor and management, Mr. Dear spearheaded a major reform of the workers' compensation program, converting a $225 million deficit into a $350 million surplus while stabilizing premiums for employers and improving benefits to workers. He also started health care cost containment and quality assurance programs.
Mr. Dear was president of the National Association of Governmental Labor Officials (NAGLO) in 1990-91. He served on the board of directors for the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association (OSHSPA) from 1989-1993. Mr. Dear also served as chairman of the State of Washington Investment Board, which manages public pension portfolios and workers' compensation funds totaling more than $19 billion.
Before joining the state government, Mr. Dear was research director of the Washington State Labor Council from 1981-85. He was the founder of People for Fair Taxes, a public interest coalition of labor, church and civic organizations supporting progressive state and local tax policy, and served as the organization's executive director from 1977-81.
Mr. Dear graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia in 1976, with
a bachelor of arts degree in political economy. He is a 1986 graduate of
Harvard University's program for Senior Executives in State and Local
Government. Mr. Dear is married and has two children.
|Congressional Testimonies - (Archived) Table of Contents|