Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) have strongly urged Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to withdraw the proposed rule on occupational health risk assessment which her Department submitted to OMB on July 7.  Their letter says:

“we are deeply disappointed that the Department of Labor is working to slip through a rule that may have a profound negative impact on the health and safety of American workers.”

The Secretary’s policy chief, Leon R. Sequeira, and press officer, David James, dismiss claims that this rulemaking is being done in “secret.”  (Never mind they failed to mention it in their May 5, 2008 regulatory agenda.)*  They both suggest that calls for the Department to pull back this proposed rule are premature because it has not yet been published to allow for public comment.

“If they want to criticize the department over what’s in the proposal, they’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so,” James said.

 Yee-gads! That’s the last thing I want–to see this sham “reform” to MSHA’s and OSHA’s risk assessment process published as a proposed rule in the Federal Register.  This thing belongs only in one place: The Bad Idea Graveyard.

We have crane crashing and killing workers, only a measly OSHA housekeeping rule to address catastrophic combustible dust explosions, workers STILL dying from black lung and silicosis, and workers getting screwed back-and-forth by the Labor Department, the G.W. Bush crowd wants us to divert our attention to this issue, which has NOTHING to do with protecting workers’ health.  No way!  Let’s turn up the heat—not about this draft risk assessment plan—but on the long litany of Chao’s failures, including the lives lost and illnesses developed because of her anti-worker, anti-public health agenda.

Updated: 7/24/08 at 4:15 pm–More crashing cranes: Two more individuals have died from  fatal injuries involving construction cranes.  Ironworker Josh Dawe, 33, died at a worksite in Normal, Illinois on Wednesday, July 23.  He leaves behind a fiance and baby.  An 80-year old gentleman in Oklahoma City was killed and his wife injured when a crane erecting a steeple on a church collapsed

Updated: 7/24/08 at 6:12 pm—Copy of “Chao’s Secret Rule” courtesy of the Washington Post.

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*Note:  DOL’s regulatory agenda says: “This document sets forth the Department’s semiannual agenda of regulations that have been selected for review or development during the coming year.  The Department’s agencies have carefully assessed their available resources and what they can accomplish in the next 12 months and have adjusted their agendas accordingly.” ( 73 Federal Register 24720)   Hmmm… they’re not so good at assessing their available resources.  I wouldn’t trust them to be any more astute as developing health risk assessment guidelines.

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Updated: 7/24/08 at 4:15 pm–More crashing cranes: Two more individuals have died from  fatal injuries involving construction cranes.  Ironworker Josh Dawe, 33, died at a worksite in Normal, Illinois on Wednesday, July 23.  He leaves behind a fiance and baby.  An 80-year old gentleman in Oklahoma City was killed and his wife injured when a crane collapsed while a steeple was being erected on a church

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Celeste Monforton, MPH worked at OSHA and MSHA from 1991-2001.  She knows plenty of workers who work 30, 40, and 45 years in jobs with the same hazardous workplace exposures.