ORC HSE Viewpoint: Here We Are Again

Here We Are Again

A road worker sandblasting newly laid concrete on an interstate highway in Denver. Such work can expose laborers to industrial minerals linked to lung disease. – Credit Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

A June 5 New York Times article illustrated the Trump Administration’s attitude toward occupational health and safety regulation.

Dee Woodhull, Owner, ORCHSE Strategies, LLC

I t cites the Administration’s consideration of altering the recently completed OSHA beryllium standard and delay of enforcement of the new silica rule, its proposals to eliminate the Chemical Safety Board and defund the Susan Harwood training program. NIOSH’s budget is also slated for severe cuts.

Companies and industries that had initially supported the beryllium standard, or that had remained silent during the rule-making process now object to the final rule, and have lobbied for and may receive exemptions from and re-configuration of the rule, based on the perception that it will harm their businesses.

Protecting workers can lead to new and better ways of producing products and services…

Construction industry groups have sued OSHA to block enforcement of the silica rule because it is “infeasible and unworkable.” In response, OSHA delayed enforcement for the construction industry.

The misperception that worker protections are too costly and therefore harmful to business is a persistent one that has impeded progress, particularly in occupational health, over the decades since OSHA was created. ORC HSE’s professional community has experience with making the business case for industrial hygiene and safety programs and improvements that need to be integrated into the knowledge base of Safety and Health practice.

Protecting workers can lead to new and better ways of producing products and services, and deliver cost savings and efficiencies to the core business that outstrip the mere prevention of injury and illness. It requires some imagination and perseverance to find new approaches, but many companies have realized gains they wouldn’t have otherwise. Business leaders and owners need to be educated about the financial benefits of a strong occupational safety and health program. ORC HSE can help these companies learn from some of the most advanced companies in the world.