New CPR Report Examines Regulatory Dysfunction at OSHA

by Ben Somberg

February 09, 2010

CPR today releases the white paper Workers at Risk: Regulatory Dysfunction at OSHA (press release).

The report examines an Occupational Safety and Health Administration where

Today its enforcement staff is stretched thin and the rulemaking staff struggle to produce health and safety standards that can withstand industry legal challenges. In short, OSHA is a picture of regulatory dysfunction.

The new leadership of the agency has

... inherited a resource-starved agency operating under a statute that has been enfeebled by 30 years of troubling appellate court decisions and White House initiatives that substantially increase the time and effort needed to implement a proactive regulatory agenda.

The CPR scholars propose remedies including:

  • End the practice of regularly discounting penalties before they’re even proposed.
  • Publish all negotiated settlement proposals for public comment.
  • Conduct a rigorous analysis of what resources would be required to make the OSHA inspection program a credible threat for employers chronically out of compliance, restoring the efficacy of deterrence-based enforce¬ment throughout the agency.
  • Improve training to promote criminal referrals and work with state and local prosecutors to prompt criminal indictments in certain cases.
  • Use the “general duty clause” to protect workers exposed to chemicals that lack OSHA-derived Permis¬sible Exposure Levels. The “general duty clause” requires that employers have a general duty to protect workers from known hazards likely to cause death or serious harm.
  • Seek additional resources to increase rulemaking staff.
  • Reexamine the heavy risk analysis requirements OSHA imposes on itself in the wake of a Supreme Court decision several years ago.
  • Avoid negotiated rulemaking, a process where stakeholders in a prospective rule meet to negotiate a standard with guidance from OSHA. The objective is to avoid litigation, but the approach simply hasn’t worked.
  • Improve transparency with respect to the White House Office of Management and Budget’s interaction with the agency.

The paper's authors are CPR President Rena Steinzor, board members Thomas McGarity and Sidney Shapiro, and CPR Policy Analyst Matthew Shudtz.

Tagged as: OSHA
Be the first to comment on this entry.
We ask for your email address so that we may follow up with you, ask you to clarify your comment in some way, or perhaps alert you to someone else's response. Only the name you supply and your comment will be displayed on the site to the public. Our blog is a forum for the exchange of ideas, and we hope to foster intelligent, interesting and respectful discussion. We do not apply an ideological screen, however, we reserve the right to remove blog posts we deem inappropriate for any reason, but particularly for language that we deem to be in the nature of a personal attack or otherwise offensive. If we remove a comment you've posted, and you want to know why, ask us (info@progressivereform.org) and we will tell you. If you see a post you regard as offensive, please let us know.

Also from Ben Somberg

Short Bio needs to be uploaded.

Simpler Government, or Secret and Unaccountable Government?

Somberg | Apr 04, 2013 | Regulatory Policy

Who Will Run the EPA?

Somberg | Apr 01, 2013 | Regulatory Policy

Mancini "Leads" OIRA as Deputy Administrator

Somberg | Mar 13, 2013 | Regulatory Policy

There is Now No OIRA Administrator

Somberg | Mar 11, 2013 | Regulatory Policy

Robert Glicksman Testifies in House Hearing on Regulatory Policy

Somberg | Feb 28, 2013 | Regulatory Policy

The Center for Progressive Reform

455 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150-513
Washington, DC 20001
info@progressivereform.org
202.747.0698

© Center for Progressive Reform, 2015