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OSHA chief speaks on Obama regs, oil spill, resident work hours, and more at Public Citizen

OSHA chief David Michaels speaks at Public Citizen

OSHA chief David Michaels graced Public Citizen with his presence and insight today as the kick-off to Public Citizen’s 40th Anniversary Speaker Series. From the BP oil spill cleanup to medical resident work hours, from heat standards for construction workers to noise standards for restaurant employees, Michaels pretty much covered it all. He even weighed in on President Obama’s executive order to take another look at regulations. (Public Citizen isn’t too happy about Obama’s decision.) But as we plow through our video content, take a look at our live-tweeting from the event (listed in descending order).

  • Thank you, Dr. Michaels for such an informative talk at @public_citizen
  • Need better way to talk about what osha is doing well. Will take your suggestions 
  • Have to do better job getting msg out. Public health always faces this problem. Not injured workers don’t really give testimonials
  • Total blindness to depth of workplace safety problem. What can osha, potus, vpotus do to improve? 
  • GAO and IGs regularly come and tell #OSHA how to improve. Not opposed to states creating own plans, but some states aren’t as effective 
  • Are state osha offices doing what they should be? Some have great programs that go above what’s needed. Others don’t, says #osha chief
  • Can osha’s noise standard be applied in restaurants and retail stores? Standard is 90 decibels, then have to give earplugs. But some want 85 
  • Told #bp & coast guard to use standards military uses in iraq & afghanistan. When workers took water breaks, accused of not working enough 
  • Osha has no heat standard, but every year dozens of workers killed because of heat. Maybe biggest hazard in #gulf #oilspill cleanup. 
  • Companies may say cheaper to pay fine than change policies, so osha is trying to change calculus, says David Michaels of #osha
  • We’ve had very productive discussions with ACGME, but eager to examine medical resident hrs. They deserve safe workplace, says osha chief 
  • Fatigue issues are of great concern to #osha, agency chief said. Need workers who are awake. Prepared to use general duty clause to regulate 
  • Medical resident hours?! @public_citizen petitioned #osha in sept. Agency looking at it, evaluating other approaches it can take. 
  • But hard to track down landscapers and other employees that might work near the hazardous chemicals, osha chief adds 
  • Osha has hazardous waste operator rules. They were used with great success with #bp #oilspill cleanup, says #osha chief at @public_citizen
  • Audience member talking about chemicals used in WWI at @americanu and in spring valley. What about workers exposed to these chemicals?
  • It may look like osha under obama is doing bad job bc numbers of injuries going up, but actually better bc employers reporting injuries etc 
  • Not reporting injuries is unacceptable to osha. Trying to eliminate incentive programs, unless training and teaches about standards, etc
  • Execs from #bp were there night of deepwater horizon explosion giving plaque for 7 yrs without injuries. #ironictiming #spoketoosoon #p2
  • Safety bingo: if you don’t have injury all week, get pizza on friday. This doesn’t mean prevents accidents, pressures workers to not report 
  • One of only ways to prevent injuries is to see what’s already happening in workplace. Great pressure on managers to keep injury rates down. 
  • What about employers under reporting injuries? Huge problem. We actually don’t collect for ourselves, want employers to know what goes on 
  • Osha to offer counseling for small businesses to keep workers safe. 
  • Injury and illness prevention program not ergonomics standard again, let me make that clear, #osha chief says at @public_citizen
  • Obama’s exec order? osha always has commonsense regs: they cost less than expected, are innovative & dont kill jobs. Think osha will be safe 
  • More grain entrapments last year than in past several decades, but people sent in w/o protections. #osha informs companies about the danger 
  • We have no standard for killer whales, but osha issued citations using general duty clause, #osha chief tells @public_citizen
  • OSHA ought to work with state and local criminal prosecutors more often, said #osha chief at @public_citizen event
  • David Michaels is currently taking questions at @public_citizen. Anything I should ask for you? 
  • OSHA is grateful to @public_citizen, says OSHA chief David Michaels 
  • 40th anniversary this year for both #osha and @public_citizen. Coincidence? 
  • Govt can’t be only watchdogs for workers, simply not enough inspectors. Employers should be involved and responsible too, says Michaels 
  • Vast majority of #osha‘s chemical standards from 50s and 60s. Science has changed. So should policies/protections. 
  • When workers are in the know, they are empowered to report rogue employers putting them at risk. 
  • About 12 latino workers killed on the job every week. Latino workers most vulnerable to being hurt/killed at work, says #OSHA chief. #p2
  • No small business should put workers in harm’s way simply because they cannot afford to adequately protect workers 
  • Osha using public spotlight to expose its worst violators. 
  • Osha is not working to kill jobs, we’re here to make sure jobs aren’t killing workers, says David Michaels @public_citizen speech. #p2 #regs
  • Penalty for killing fish and crabs, many times, is higher than killing a worker, says #OSHA chief David Michaels 
  • #osha is understaffed, so focuses on targeted inspections. Maximum criminal sentence for worker death is misdemeanor, 6 months in jail. 
  • Since worker deaths happen often one at a time, under-reported in news. If we heard every one, would be public outcry, says Dr. Michaels
  • Deaths have dropped 70 percent in last 40 yrs, thanks in part to stronger #regs. -Michaels. Obama shouldn’t repeal – @public_citizen
  • Worker deaths have come down in a workforce that has doubled in size in last 40 yrs since #osha created

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UPDATE: Here is the full text of David Michaels’ speech.