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Occupational Safety and Health Administration Priorities

  • Date: Jan 01 1982
  • Policy Number: 8221

Key Words: Occupational Health And Safety

Archived APHA Policy Statement

The American Public Health Association,

Having continually supported legislation such as the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act; and

Having endorsed strong standard setting and enforcement of regulations;1 and

Having opposed the budgetary and administrative attacks on occupational health and safety regulation;2 and

Finding that the US Department of Labor has ignored its statutory mandate "to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women" and seriously weakened the protection afforded to workers under the Occupational

Safety and Health Act by: 

1. Failure to promulgate standards widely recognized as necessary to protect workers from safety and health hazards; canceling standard development efforts that were ongoing during previous administrations;3 and
2. Weakening or revocation of existing standards,4 including:
a) Staying the sections of the Cancer Policy which require publication of substances which have met specific criteria for carcinogenicity;
b) Exempting numerous industries from the requirements of the lead standard;
c) Attempting to exempt the knitting and hosiery manufacturers from the provisions of the cotton dust standard;
d) Staying crucial provisions of the hearing conservation amendment to the noise standard;
e) Revocation of the regulation which required that workers be paid while accompanying OSHA compliance officers on inspections; and
3. Refusal to distribute educational booklets on cotton dust and withdrawal of films designed to educate workers about occupational hazards; and
4. Weakening the ability of the agency to perform its mission5 by:
a) Closing 41 of 123 OSHA offices in the field;
b) Moving the Directorate of Training, Education, Consultation, and Federal Agency programs from Washington, DC to Illinois;
c) Reducing the number of workplace inspections by 19 per cent and follow-up inspections by 69 per cent;
d) Making it more difficult for complaints to be investigated resulting in a 121 per cent increase in the number of backlogged complaints; and
e) Granting exemptions from inspections to most US workplaces; therefore

1. Calls for vigorous support of the following policies to maintain the integrity of the OSHA mandate:
a) Promulgating standards for substances for which the agency was developing standards under previous administrations including asbestos, hexavalent chromium, nickel, methylene(bis)chloroaniline (MBOCA), cadmium, silica, anesthetic gases, grain fumigants and dust, and others;
b) Strengthening its inspection program and targeting high hazard industries for heavy emphasis on correction of hazards;
c) Developing standards for newly recognized health hazards, including formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, ethylene dibromide, 2-nitropropane, and other toxic substances;
d) Calling on Congress to support and expand the New Directions Education and Training Grant Program in its original focus as a program to train workers; and
e) Rehiring capable and experienced staff who have been laid off or forced to resign because of geographical transfers of function, and reopening closed offices, therefore
2. Advocates to the Reagan Administration and Members of Congress the immediate implementation of the above policies; and
3. Calls for the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of Labor who is a health professional dedicated to promoting the health and safety of workers and pursuing policies to achieve this goal.


  1. APHA resolution 7111, The Right to a Healthful Work Environment. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
  2. APHA resolution 8108, Budgetary and Administrative Attacks on Occupational Safety and Health Regulation. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
  3. Federal Register Proposals, January 1980 - December 1981.
  4. OSHA internal memoranda, Washington, DC.
  5. Federal Compliance Activity Reports, Jan. 1980 - Sept. 1981.