New look for OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is evolving into a significantly tamer federal agency in the face of current regulatory reform efforts.

In mid-June, OSHA announced it was abandoning plans to implement any new programs, including its massive workplace ergonomic standards. Reaction to OSHA's 700-page proposed ergonomics rule was swift and negative from both Congress and business, despite agency assurances that it would work with the private sector to avoid undue burdens on business. But many GOP lawmakers appear determined to clip OSHA's wings even more. Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC) introduced an OSHA reform bill that, he said, is designed to create an atmosphere of partnership between business and government while improving worker safety. Ballenger's bill would: * require OSHA to place new emphasis on consultation and training, including reserving 50% of OSHA funds for education and compliance assistance; * incorporate risk assessment and a cost/benefit analysis in any rulemaking; * change the agency's focus from penalties to correction; * encourage employee participation; and * consolidate or eliminate duplicative agencies such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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