WASHINGTON, D.C. | October 5, 2011 -
LIVE Webcast – Click here to watch the LIVE webcast of the hearing beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Opening Statement of Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (remarks as prepared):
The policies and programs of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration touch upon virtually every private workplace across the country. That is a tremendous responsibility, not only for those of us in Congress who write the law, but for the agency officials charged with enforcing it. In an economy as dynamic as ours, the issues that come before your agency are understandably complex.
As great a challenge workplace safety is for an agency staffed with sharp policy minds, imagine how much greater it is for an employer who lacks the resources needed to fully grasp the complexities of federal safety standards. No one in this room questions the valuable role OSHA can play in promoting a safe work environment, doubts the need for strong health and safety protections, or believes bad actors should not be held accountable for jeopardizing the well-being of their employees.
We all share the same goal; however, as with any difficult issue of great importance, there is often a difference of opinion in how we meet that goal. It was clear from the early days of the administration a “new sheriff was in town” who intended to take a much more punitive approach to workplace safety, and who threatened to publicly shame employers. It was tough rhetoric that made good press, but unfortunately many of us remain concerned whether it is the best approach to worker safety.
That is why Republicans on this committee have established a strong oversight agenda, which includes raising legitimate concerns, asking tough questions, demanding responsible answers, and holding hearings to learn from the men and women whose lives are directly impacted by OSHA’s policies.
Today’s hearing is an important part of our efforts. In July, the Department of Labor released its semiannual regulatory agenda that includes a number of OSHA items. Many of the regulatory proposals are identified as “economically significant,” meaning they will cost $100 million or more for businesses to implement. Aside from the significant scope and cost of the administration’s regulatory ambitions, there are additional concerns with specific proposals.