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OSHA Fights GOP Plan To Slash Training Program, Possibly Revoke Some Grants

A GOP-led House plan to zero out funding for OSHA's Susan Harwood training grants next year and launch a new round of evaluations to see if existing recipients should still get money has the Labor Department ginning up opposition to the effort, which sources say grows out of Republicans viewing the program as union- and activist-driven.

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An industry attorney is pushing back against the Environmental Protection Agency's assertion in a recently released vapor intrusion guidance that it has "broad authority" to protect workers from indoor air contamination, arguing the agency's position lacks legal backing and tries to compensate for weak OSHA exposure limits.

Nurses' representatives are pressing hard for health care employers to use an OSHA-developed model to reduce the potential for workplace violence, including a set of engineering controls, as the agency comes under increasing pressure from labor groups to take an enforcement approach to cutting violence risks.

Corporate franchise advocates are seeking a wide swath of documents and information from OSHA regarding its internal decision-making and any enforcement direction imposed by the national office on field staff to carry out the current OSHA policy on determining the joint employer status of businesses.

NIOSH continues to press for “prevention through design” solutions to reduce safety and health risks through early preventive measures, urging employers to weave the concept into their business models and producing a new guide to help companies understand how to put such an initiative in place.

OSHA chief David Michaels says a new Obama administration policy to screen employers for alleged past OSH Act and other labor law violations and use that as a factor in awarding federal contracts has been written to proactively help employers get into OSHA compliance, not simply freeze them out of federal business, a view contrary to industry's worries that the policy will be used as a heavy-handed enforcement tool.