Congress charged the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with the job of representing the interests of small business before regulatory agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As an agency of the federal government, it has an obligation to taxpayers to get its facts straight before it speaks. Lately, it has ignored this basic obligation, most notably sponsoring a study that used flawed methodology to claim that regulations impose $1.75 trillion in costs every year.
Now, Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the SBA, has upped his attack on OSHA’s efforts to update its noise regulation, making assertions that are highly misleading and at times simply wrong. In an interview last week with the Phoenix Business Journal, Sargeant claimed:
The OSHA rule was a solution to a problem that had already been solved. Basically, this was a noise abatement rule. At some factories, there's noise. The machine makes noise. There's already a solution -- ear plugs, earmuffs that workers would wear. That solved the problem. OSHA came along and said, well, that may solve the problem. But we think companies should buy new equipment with lower noise figures. So now we've gone from a solution of $10 or so to millions of dollars to solve the same problem.
Dr. Sargeant, a presidential appointee, is not arguing that he thinks reducing machine noise isn't worth the cost; he's actually asserting ...