Lawmakers urge greater oversight of state health, safety programs
The committee held a hearing into state-run health and safety programs after federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials raised questions about employee protections under Nevada's plan.
"While some states are running innovative programs, it is clear that additional reviews of state plans are warranted," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the committee.
Under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, a state can operate its own workplace health and safety program as long as it meets basic federal minimum standards. Twenty-seven states and territories operate such programs and are partially funded by the federal government.
Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary for OSHA, told the committee that the issues discovered in Nevada raised concerns about the federal agency's monitoring of all state plans. As a result, Barab said the agency's goal is to move from reaction to prevention and that federal OSHA will implement a number of changes to strengthen the oversight, monitoring and evaluation of all state programs.
Miller is planning additional oversight activities into this issue.
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January 4, 2010
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