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Science Blogs: Chamber of Commerce's misinformation campaign about worker safety regulations

-By Celeste Monforton 

October 21, 2010- Industry trade association are masters of using scare tactics and misinformation about environment, health and safety regulations to recruit and retain members. The latest evidence is the Chamber of Commerce's "This Way to Jobs" propaganda campaign, with the worn out message: regulations on workers' safety and environmental protection hurt the economy and businesses. A video cartoon promoting the campaign says: "

Washington isn't good at everything but recently it's been great at issuing regulations."
The sites features a photo of a small businessman, Ronald Myers of Hot Shot Equipment, who suggests that workplace safety regulations forced him out of business. He's seen standing behind a chain link fence, presumably his now shuttered small manufacturing shop.

The Chamber says:

"in the past two years we've seen a dramatic acceleration of regulations, rulemakings, and mandates."
I don't see it that way. The Obama Administration took office about 20 months. Since then, OSHA has only issue one, just ONE new regulation.

It was a safety rule for cranes and derricks published this July. The crane rule had been in the works since 2003, and was called for by manufacturers, suppliers and users of cranes because the previous OSHA standard dated back to 1971 and was seriously out of date with current construction practices. I'd hardly call one rule that applies to a specific type of construction equipment an avalanche of new OSHA regulations.

The Chamber of Commerce's scare tactic language says

"OSHA is moving forward on an expansive safety and health program regulation that could require businesses to revamp their existing programs."

A little fact-checking tells us that OSHA hasn't actually proposed anything of the sort. OSHA's assistant secretary has talked about proposing a rule that would requiring employers to find and fix hazards, a responsibility that already underlies the OSH Act. The agency invited the public to participate in stakeholder meetings held in June, July and August to discuss the concept of an injury and illness prevention program. But, no such regulation has been officially proposed yet by OSHA. In fact, the Dept of Labor's most recent regulatory agenda doesn't even have a target date for PROPOSING such a rule. It's hard to imagine that informed business people would fall for the trade association's rhetoric, especially with respect to OSHA which issues only a couple of major rules each decade.



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