New OSHA Administrator addresses safety of 'green' jobs

[tweetmeme]From the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org)

In his first speech since being confirmed as OSHA administrator, David Michaels outlined the agency’s initiative to pair newly emerging “green” jobs with safety.   Green jobs – environmentally friendly initiatives focused on sustainability – are viewed by some as inherently safe, Michaels said, but that is far from the truth.

“At OSHA, when we hear ‘weatherization and renovation,’ we see exposure to lead and asbestos,” Michaels said Wednesday at a NIOSH workshop on green jobs, according to prepared remarks. “When we hear ‘rooftop solar power,’ we see fall hazards.” He said OSHA will focus on employers and employees working together on safety, chemical safety, prevention through design, the creation of “good” standards and “enhancing workers’ voice” in the workplace, including Susan Harwood Training Grants on green jobs.

Many of these initiatives are a crossover to current hot topics in the occupational safety and health arena, some of which Michaels addressed:

  • A diacetyl rulemaking is “piecemeal,” and a broader approach to food-flavoring additives may be necessary, he said.
  • In light of the recent Government Accountability Office report on the inaccuracies of employer-provided injury and illness figures, OSHA will be taking a “hard look” at incentive and disciplinary programs at worksites to ensure they do not discourage workers from reporting on-the-job injuries.
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