Monday, January 4, 2010

OSHA Going Green

By Eric Tofte, Director of Training, Evergreen Safety Council
On December 16, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) delivered remarks to The NIOSH Going Green Workshop entitled Making Green Jobs Safe: Integrating Occupational Safety & Health into Green and Sustainability.

This workshop was to focus on safety issues for upcoming “green” jobs. The remarks, which can be found here discussed the push to newer green jobs and not to compromise safety. Within these remarks, Dr. Michaels identified five green reform principles. These 5 principles are:

Green Reform Principle number 1 to move “forward on green jobs is to ensure that workers are more engaged in the work process and in the development of green jobs. It's clear that we must move toward a permanent system where employers and workers come together, on a basis of mutual respect, to assess and abate hazards.”

Green Reform Principle number 2 is the big picture is chemical safety. “For example, the European Community's REACH program will provide industry and American workers with more and better information about the chemicals they are exposed to. More important, REACH is also, finally, challenging the old paradigm where chemicals are considered innocent until proven guilty - and all too often proven guilty by the sick and dead bodies of American workers.”

Green Reform Principle number 3 is that “OSHA will be fully involved in the movement toward Prevention through Design. Prevention through Design is about fundamental change that integrates safety efficiently and thoroughly.”

Green Reform Principle number 4 “Where, and when possible, OSHA must move ahead on rulemaking for urgently needed standards - and to create good standards, we'll need the input of scientists and engineers, academics, students and workers. We'll also need allies in the progressive business community who will say "yes" to sensible changes and participate in the rulemaking process with constructive comments and insight.”

Lastly, Green Reform Principle number 5. “Enhancing workers' voice in the workplace. To get us up to date and move into a safer, healthier future, it's also clear that workers must have a stronger voice in workplace safety than they have now. Giving that voice impact and value means that workers must have much better information about their rights, the hazards they face and controls for those hazards.”

Just a bit of information to make you realize that even in this economic down turn and the search for newer jobs, OSHA and DOSH will be there and we cannot begin to short cut safety.

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