Thursday, May 21, 2009


A new bill, H.R. 2067, was recently introduced into the House which will amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This bill authorizes the Secretary of Labor to prevent employee exposure to imminent dangers, to increase whistleblower protections, to increase penalties for certain violators and for other purposes. Go to this link: to read the full bill text.

Changes in OSHA law are way over due. The current OSHA law is outdated and does not provide safeguards to adequately protect workers or the public’s health and safety, especially with the development of new dangerous technologies in biotechnology and nanotechnology.

This new bill, if passed, unfortunately, will not fix OSHA’s overall problems. Serious issues regarding worker’s rights to safety forums and to exposure records for their health care will remain serious deficiencies.

Nevertheless, this new bill should provide OSHA with extra strongholds that could possibly make OSHA more effective. For example, the addition of whistleblower protections, if effective, will go a long way in protecting public health and safety.

“Will Bill H.R. 2067 pass?” is the big question. With industry’s lobbyists buzzing around DC, busy placing roadblocks to any worker’s rights, it may be squashed in no time.


  1. Wistleblower protection for workers reporting safety hazards already exists, so this bill will not make any difference there. What they need are updatede safety standards in many areas (including those you mention), and also the ability to cite the employees for violating certain standards (as opposed to their employer).

  2. Dear OSHA Training Pro---

    You are absolutely correct in stating that updated safety standards are needed. But this isn’t a cure all. Unfortunately, we will once again be faced with obsolete safety standards since science is always moving forward with new discoveries which pose dangers up and beyond the written law.

    So how do we solve this vicious cycle of laws becoming outdated once they are enacted?

    One of the answers might be in the role of safety committees. Unfortunately, most institutions have a "top-down culture of safety” where safety committees made up of “lower rung” employees have become token committees, having no deliberate power to institute safe working conditions. This is a big problem.

    I once worked for a company that had a stringent top-down culture of safety where the biotechnicians had NO say about specific safety policies. In fact, this company based their safety budgets on what was considered legal, and not what was considered safe. Especially in a system where laws are outdated as soon as they are enacted, this “legal safety” philosophy posed a significant threat to both workers and to the public.

    Since many senior biotechnicians know more about safe handling of many dangerous technologies than do managers sitting behind mahogany desks generating budgets and running institutions, the deliberate act of leaving biotechnicians out of the safety equation is just plain stupid. What is needed is a top-down/bottom-up system of safety where all have input regarding worker’s safety, liability, responsibility and public health and safety. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. Until that changes, there will always be problems.

    Your comment concerning citing employees for violating certain standards as opposed to their employers is very interesting. It would definitely make biotechnicians more liable and responsible. Perhaps in the future it also might also garner some legal power to them so that they can become part of the safety policy culture which ,consequently, might ensure that policies at private companies are based on reasonable public health and safety standards.

    Regarding your opinion on whistle blower laws: Yes, these laws exist, but they are so weak, they don’t’ protect. New laws with greater protections are desperately needed. If Bill HR 2067 passes, we will have to wait to see if it holds any greater protections or not.