NSC 2009 Congress and Expo Update

Wow, that was not as fun as I thought it would be. I set up a twitter account (@greglemke) and trying to get the background photo just right wasn’t easy.

Enough of that though…I have returned from the National Safety Council (NSC) 2009 Congress and Expo in Orlando, Florida.  It was an enjoyable experience overall, however I don’t think anything new and exciting was announced.  OSHA released it’s Top 10 citations for 2009…and surprise, surprise Scaffolding and Fall Protection led the pack again this year.

OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations for 2009 are:

  1. Scaffolding, General – 9,093 violations
  2. Fall Protection – 6,771 violations
  3. Hazard Communication – 6,378 violations
  4. Respiratory Protection – 3,803 violations
  5. Lockout/Tagout – 3,321 violations
  6. Electrical, Wiring – 3,079 violations
  7. Ladders – 3,072 violations
  8. Powered Industrial Trucks – 2,993 violations
  9. Electrical, General – 2,556 violations
  10. Machine Guarding – 2,364 violations

NSC also announced a million acts of safety  campaign; which is designed to save 10,000 lives and prevent 1 million injuries in the next 5 years…not sure of the details at this point.  This seems like a PR stunt at this point and not a real safety iniative which is very disappointing!

Again Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Jordan Barab attended and participated in a panel discussion with Dr. John Howard of NIOSH and Former Assistant Sectretary of Labor John Henshaw.  And again Barab preached the virtues of enforcement and updating to existing standards.  I applaud him for his apparent passion to making worker’s safe at work.  However, I hope the new administration takes John Henshaw’s call for a balanced approach to OSHA.  Henshaw indicated he wanted to see a balanced approach of the carrot and the stick.  Continuing support for Alliances and the VPP as the carrot for encouraging companies to the do the right thing with incentives, and increasing enforcement as the stick!  Until OSHA restructures it’s citation policy and maximizes it’s position to leverage changes in behavior, enforcement by itself won’t work.  Not to mention that you have over 7 million workplaces in America and only a very limited number of inspectors.  Enforcement alone will not change behaviors and make America’s workers safer.

One issue that wasn’t talked about much was the expansion of OSHA into the public sector.  HR 2067/S,. 1580 would close a loop hole in worker safety regulations by bringing state and local public employees in Federal run OSHA states into OSHA oversight.  Currently hundreds of thousands of workers have NO work safety rules to protect them on the jobsite.  Scary stuff and something that should be corrected! 

Well that’s all for now.  Please be sure to follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/greglemke

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