Date: Sat, 19 Dec 2009 19:38:17 -0500
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From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: OSHA and chemical safety agenda
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From: UK Occupational Hygiene Discussion List (ukoh**At_Symbol_Here** 
Sent: December 19, 2009 5:59:53 AM


Below is an extract from a speech which David Michaels gave on 16 Dec at a NIOSH workshop on green and safe jobs.  Dr Michaels is the new Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, and author of the book "Doubt is their product".  The general theme of the speech is green jobs, with quite a lot about the importance of worker participation.



*        I have a vision of a greener world where there is full and complete hazard information available for every chemical and every chemical mixture; where science is at work not only to make more effective and more profitable chemicals, but safer chemicals, too.  I dream of a world where workers can labor on an equal basis with management to find safe chemicals and develop and implement processes that won't put workers in danger.

*        We have an enormous chasm to bridge between the ideal future and the imperfect present. Today we suspect that at least a couple of thousand high-use chemicals out there may present some threat to worker health. Yet, OSHA currently regulates about 500 chemicals, based mostly on science from the 1950s and 1960s. And how many chemical standards has OSHA issued in the past twelve years? Two!

*        So, not only are we lacking critical information about the hazards of many chemicals, but we have virtually no information about the hazards of chemical mixtures.

*        If we don't pay attention at the dawn of this new green revolution, we'll be replicating past problems as we move into future industries. I'm making it my mission and OSHA's mission to ensure that this doesn't happen...


*        Another part of the bigger picture is chemical safety, as I outlined earlier. That's Principle Number Two. For example:

o       The European Community's REACH program will provide American industry and 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.

o       The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals will also contribute consistency, efficiency, and more and better information -- leading to greater worker safety and health.

o       Congress is working closely with  the EPA and Lisa Jackson are moving toward reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

*        Now, if this administration and this Congress can see fit to move forward with TSCA reform, is there any reason we shouldn't move forward at the same time to reform the way worker exposure to chemicals is regulated and controlled? I don't think so, and I plan to ensure that OSHA participates with NIOSH and EPA in all discussions about chemical regulation in this country.

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