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OSHA Obama-gram

Although it was not a hot campaign item by either party, in the wake of the presidential election, lots of safety experts and OSHA watchers have speculated as to what the Obama administration will mean to OSHA.

Conventional wisdom says that OSHA is more active under a Democrat administration. As critics of the current administration like to point out, fewer OSHA standards have been promulgated under President Bush than any of his predecessors since the OSHA Act became law in 1970. In case you forgot, that was under President Nixon.

Most of the prognosticators point to more energetic enforcement—meaning more inspections, higher fines, maybe even criminal penalties for egregious violations—the approval of new standards, additional funding for training, and the resurrection of the ergonomic standard, albeit in a different form.

Just for fun, imagine you have a direct line to the President-elect’s ear. What OSHA changes would you suggest specific to healthcare?

Here is one that I have been following from the Small Business Regulatory Review and Reform Initiative [1] (r3). The Update OSHA’s Medical / Laboratory Worker Rule [2] calls for a “tiered” approach to enforcing the bloodborne pathogens (BBP) standard. Adherence to the standard would be based “on the amount of blood and bodily fluids present at the facility.” The critical thinking behind this r3 proposal is that the current standard is more relevant to large facilities and BBP flexibility would relieve small facilities and practices of some unnecessary compliance burdens.

So, here is your chance to let, if not President-elect Obama, at least your safety and compliance colleagues know what changes you would like to see in OSHA. Who knows what is possible through the blogosphere. As you have no doubt heard recently: “Yes we can.”