Friday, December 15, 2006

Safety Issues on the Table

Will new congress improve ergonomics and safety regulations? ...

"In a "roundtable" discussion, Occupational Hazards asked stakeholders to predict which safety and health issues will be on the table in 2007.

With a new year almost upon us, Occupational Hazards convened a "roundtable" of safety and health stakeholders to get a sense of what might be in store for the EHS community in 2007. Although the roundtable discussion consisted of one-on-one interviews, several common themes emerged, including: the aging work force; the business of safety; globalization; health insurance costs; immigrant worker safety; nanotechnology; off-the-job safety; and pandemic flu preparedness.

Casting a shadow on all of those topics was the question of just how the EHS community will be impacted by the new political complexion of Congress.

Stakeholders offered frank opinions on what probably will happen and what they hope will happen as a result of the Nov. 7 elections, which gave the Democrats majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives. When the new Congress takes office in January, Democrats will take control of the two committees that have oversight of workplace safety and health: Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts will chair the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), while Rep. George Miller of California, at press time, was the presumptive chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

National Safety Council (NSC) President and CEO Alan McMillan does not believe that the change in the balance of power will have an immediate impact on workers and EHS professionals. Rather, he expects it to have "a time-delayed affect on the workplace at large."

"I do believe there's going to be a heightened level of oversight, and I think we'll see that early on," McMillan said. "I think we'll see it in both the House and the Senate."    (Continued via Occupational Hazards)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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