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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone involved with workplace safety?

Just a heads-up...

U.S. Rushes to Change Workplace Toxin Rules

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 23, 2008; A01

Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers' on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins.

The agency did not disclose the proposal, as required, in public notices of regulatory plans that it filed in December and May. Instead, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao's intention to push for the rule first surfaced on July 7, when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its Web site that it was reviewing the proposal, identified only by its nine-word title.

The text of the proposed rule has not been made public, but according to sources briefed on the change and to an early draft obtained by The Washington Post, it would call for reexamining the methods used to measure risks posed by workplace exposure to toxins. The change would address long-standing complaints from businesses that the government overestimates the risk posed by job exposure to chemicals.

The rule would also require the agency to take an extra step before setting new limits on chemicals in the workplace by allowing an additional round of challenges to agency risk assessments.

The department's speed in trying to make the regulatory change contrasts with its reluctance to alter workplace safety rules over the past 7 1/2 years. In that time, the department adopted only one major health rule for a chemical in the workplace, and it did so under a court order.

In an interview, Labor's assistant secretary for policy, Leon R. Sequeira, said officials did not disclose their interest in the rule change earlier because they were uncertain until recently whether they wanted to follow through and pursue a regulation.

But the fast-track approach has brought criticism from workplace-safety advocates, unions and Democrats in Congress. Some accuse the Bush administration of working secretly to give industry a parting gift that will help it delay or block safety regulations after President Bush leaves office.

"It's an insult to America's workers for the Department of Labor to be spending its time in the last year of this administration allegedly fine-tuning the details of how to do these regulations when, other than the one ordered by a court, they have issued no major worker-health regulations," said Adam Finkel, a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey who is a former health standards director at Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "The reality is there's a great need to light a fire under this moribund agency to do something -- anything -- to protect workers."

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said: "The fact that the Department of Labor seems to be engaged in secret rulemaking makes me highly suspicious that some high-level political appointees are up to no good. This Congress will not stand for the gutting of health and safety protections as the Bush administration heads out the door."

Sequeira said department policy prevents him from discussing the details of a draft rule, how it was written and by whom, until it is reviewed by the OMB. The public will have 30 days to critique the draft after it is published.

"It's premature to comment," he said. "People appear to be making assumptions about what's in the draft."

Last week, the proposal was defended in an opinion piece in the New York Sun written by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a fellow at the conservative-leaning Hudson Institute. She wrote that it would bring a "rationalized approach" to risk assessments and probably move away from the incorrect assumption in current rules that workers stay in a job, with daily exposure to the same chemicals or toxins, for as long as 45 years.

Furchtgott-Roth did not mention in the article that she was one of the consultants who worked with Labor beginning in September 2007 on a $349,000 outside study of the risk-assessment process.

The OMB has been trying to address the issue of risk assessment since 2006, when it attempted to set new standards governing how a host of federal agencies reach their conclusions. That plan was withdrawn after the National Academy of Sciences called it "fatally flawed" because it lacked scientific grounding.

Early this year, Deborah Misir, a political deputy in Labor's office of the assistant secretary for policy, worked with the OMB to draft a new risk-assessment rule. A former ethics adviser to Bush, Misir had complained that the department's assumption of a 45-year working life overstated the risk of exposure.

Typically, before drafting a rule, agency officials consult with staff members, lawyers and outside experts, and sometimes industry and other interested parties. But Misir initially did not consult scientific and workplace-risk-assessment experts in OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, according to sources briefed on her work.

Charles Gordon, a recently retired Labor Department lawyer who worked on regulations in OSHA's solicitor's office for 32 years, said the policy office does not usually take the lead on rules involving risk assessments. "Normally, issues of health science like risk assessment are performed by OSHA and MSHA, that have statutory authority and expertise in the area," Gordon said.

Misir waited until April to seek comments from the department's experts. They objected to both the legality and substance of the proposal and recommended that Chao not pursue such a rule, according to the sources.

A few weeks later, when the agency listed regulations "under development or review" in its semiannual agenda, the risk-assessment proposal was not included. But a draft was circulating among a small group of advisers, according to a date-stamped copy obtained by The Post.

In spring 2007, the department listed 38 potential workplace-safety regulations as works in progress. Among its priorities were a proposal to reduce deaths and injuries from cranes and derricks, following a spate of fatal accidents; a new rule to reduce illnesses from silica, which can cause respiratory diseases; and a proposal to change regulation of beryllium, a light metal that can harm the lungs of dental and metal workers.

But virtually overnight, changing the risk-assessment process became the agency's top priority for workplace regulations. The July submission of its proposal broke a deadline set by White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten, who had ordered that all agencies submit proposed regulations before June 1 and "resist the historical tendency of administrations to increase regulatory activity in their final months."

Nevertheless, the OMB agreed to work with Labor on the proposal. The July 7 posting on its Web site shocked many inside and outside the agency who had been following the events.

"This is flat-out secrecy," said Peg Seminario, director of health and safety policy at the AFL-CIO. "They are trying to essentially change the job safety and health laws and reduce required workplace protections through a midnight regulation."

Seminario said she was stunned that the administration would consider the rule its top priority, when for years it has "slow-walked and stalled" safety rules that would reduce worker deaths and injuries from diacetyl and beryllium.

David Michaels, an epidemiologist and workplace safety professor at George Washington University's School of Public Health, said the rule would add another barrier to creating safety standards, in the name of improving them.

"This is a guarantee to keep any more worker safety regulation from ever coming out of OSHA," Michaels said. "This is being done in secrecy, to be sprung before President Bush leaves office, to cripple the next administration."
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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BTW, talks of this have been going on for a while. It's just coincidence that it's getting done now. No one is trying to "cripple an administration."
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:22 AM
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I just hope it sticks. Even though I'm sure you could make bank on CO2 exhalation monitoring in the workplace when it gets here
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Casper
I just hope it sticks. Even though I'm sure you could make bank on CO2 exhalation monitoring in the workplace when it gets here
Shit... remember when the whole black mold scare came out? MONEY!
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:30 AM
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They are also trying to pass some hardline drug testing policies on DOT employees. Where are all the union haters at? Everyone is quick to say that unions are outdated and don't have a place in todays work place. Funny thing is millions of dollars of union dues are spent each year fighting these common ground battles for all workers. It's easy to sit back and throw stones when you don't even have one dollar let alone a dog in the fight.

TRAIN TRASH it's like WHITE TRASH but with money.

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FreightTrain
They are also trying to pass some hardline drug testing policies on DOT employees. Where are all the union haters at? Everyone is quick to say that unions are outdated and don't have a place in todays work place. Funny thing is millions of dollars of union dues are spent each year fighting these common ground battles for all workers. It's easy to sit back and throw stones when you don't even have one dollar let alone a dog in the fight.
Who is a union hater?
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Denny
Who is a union hater?

I was making a general statement because there are plenty on this site. My point is anytime something like this comes up the Unions are the first ones to circle the wagons and put their money were their mouth is. I don't see non union workers taking up collections to fight these policies.

TRAIN TRASH it's like WHITE TRASH but with money.

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FreightTrain
I was making a general statement because there are plenty on this site. My point is anytime something like this comes up the Unions are the first ones to circle the wagons and put their money were their mouth is. I don't see non union workers taking up collections to fight these policies.
I see unions getting pissed at this approach, if it is what it is. In all reality, this is a biased and politically charged article. I find no real reason why they shouldn’t reexamine methods that determine exposure limits. Granted, their approach is a little peculiar, but what action isn’t from now until November? Somehow, I don’t think it’s all this article is making it out to be, but is definitely interesting. It’s funny how they’re making battle grounds almost everywhere.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Denny
I see unions getting pissed at this approach, if it is what it is. In all reality, this is a biased and politically charged article. I find no real reason why they shouldn’t reexamine methods that determine exposure limits. Granted, their approach is a little peculiar, but what action isn’t from now until November? Somehow, I don’t think it’s all this article is making it out to be, but is definitely interesting. It’s funny how they’re making battle grounds almost everywhere.

I agree with you on that one, but have you seen the new drug policy they plan on rolling out for DOT workers. You pretty much have to agree to a cavity search so they can make sure your not hiding artificial urine. I think they should do a test study of this program on Major league Baseball before they plan on rolling it out to the general public.

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by FreightTrain
Where are all the union haters at?
Right here, noting that the unions are the ones who have politically opposed the administration which is currently proposing these curbs. Still think they are fighting for all US workers?

If so, explain this shit:

Unions Urge Amnesty For Illegal Immigrants

Definitely not a recent trend either.

Yeah, unions have my best interest in mind.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Casper
Right here, noting that the unions are the ones who have politically opposed the administration which is currently proposing these curbs. Still think they are fighting for all US workers?

If so, explain this shit:

Unions Urge Amnesty For Illegal Immigrants

Definitely not a recent trend either.

Yeah, unions have my best interest in mind.

You will never find someone or any organization that you agree with 100% of the time. I disagree with plenty of things my own union does and says. For one I refuse to vote democrat for any reason.

TRAIN TRASH it's like WHITE TRASH but with money.

My other vehicle is a Locomotive.

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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by FreightTrain
Funny thing is millions of dollars of union dues are spent each year fighting these common ground battles for all workers.
I was referring to this statement.

Drug testing? Must be a union thing. I've refused before and still got the job.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Casper
I was referring to this statement.

Drug testing? Must be a union thing. I've refused before and still got the job.

I'd bet money you never refused a DOT drug test and kept your job.

TRAIN TRASH it's like WHITE TRASH but with money.

My other vehicle is a Locomotive.

Don't cupple up without protection.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny
Who is a union hater?
/Waves hand

Over here!

1/19/09, the last day of Free America.
Pericles "Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it. "

"[T]he people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." --Samuel Adams


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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 12:39 PM
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I'm not sure how this will effect us... MSHA is already all over our ass... Hell, last week, they had someone listed on the safety report as having a contusion because they walked into the corner of a desk...

So now we're reporting bruises?
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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by FreightTrain
I'd bet money you never refused a DOT drug test and kept your job.
Nope, never needed to. And FWIW it was part of an insurance/employment package that substituted for workman's comp insurance, something the union lobbied for and got in Texas. If it were a union job I would have pretty much been required to agree to get the job, but since I wasn't it just pissed off someone in HR who had no choice because they were too desparate for my individual, non-union skills and experience.

So the union is against exhaustive drug testing of DOT workers on the road? Yeah, that is really in my best interest. Just like their support for national health care.
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 12:48 PM
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And let's not forget the hue and cry about the "unfairness" of Arlington GM workers not being eligible for unemployment benefits during a strike. The union opts out of the system and still wants me to support them?

That isn't my self interest either.
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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 03:32 PM
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So the union is against exhaustive drug testing of DOT workers on the road? Yeah, that is really in my best interest. Just like their support for national health care.
No the union has issues against the way the test must be administered. The government is hard up to find folks using artificial urine. Instead of out lawing artificial urine or developing ways to test for it in the lab they want you to preform a strip tease before you piss in the cup. The next time I have to piss in the cup I hope the nurse isn't too bashful because I'm going to drop my pants to the ground and do the helicopter. This is the part of the law that we have issues with.

Of particular concern is new Section 40.67(b), which would require that railroads — among others — “must direct a [urine] collection under direct observation of an employee if the drug test is a return-to-duty test or a follow-up test.” The new direct observation standard set forth at Section 40.67(i) requires railroads to “request the employee to raise his or her shirt, blouse, or dress/skirt, as appropriate, above the waist; and lower clothing and underpants to show …, by turning around, that they do not have a prosthetic device [that could be used to deliver a substituted urine specimen].” After the railroad has “determined that the employee does not have such a device, [it] may permit the employee to return clothing to its proper position for observed urination.”

TRAIN TRASH it's like WHITE TRASH but with money.

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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 03:43 PM
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I am so good at what I do that I could come in smoking a joint they wouldn't care. That's what happens when you are good at what you do and finding and training a replacement for you would take years instead of days.
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 03:44 PM
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outlaw artificial urine? Test for artificial urine? Besides being dumbasserry, how is that going to address the intent of the proposition which is insuring proper urinalysis collection?

Wow, that's a real pressing issue that sits on the minds of laborers everywhere. Go union
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post #21 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 03:53 PM
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outlaw artificial urine? Test for artificial urine? Besides being dumbasserry, how is that going to address the intent of the proposition which is insuring proper urinalysis collection?

Wow, that's a real pressing issue that sits on the minds of laborers everywhere. Go union

How about you go back to your cubicle and lets all hope you don't get a paper cut. You've demonstrated that you don't work in a dangerous enviroment so you have no basis for your jaded views, but to make my point it's a little demeaning to require anyone to strip down infront of a stranger in order to piss in a cup. Oh and just incase you were wondering the company is against this policy also because they are affraid it leaves them open to sexual harrassment lawsuits.

This law affects all DOT employees of which most are non union. They include, Pilots, Bus drivers, Public Tranportation workers, Railroad workers, machine operaters, and anyone that has a CDL.

TRAIN TRASH it's like WHITE TRASH but with money.

My other vehicle is a Locomotive.

Don't cupple up without protection.

Last edited by FreightTrain; 07-23-2008 at 03:59 PM.
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post #22 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 04:07 PM
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How about you go back to your cubicle and lets all hope you don't get a paper cut. You've demonstrated that you don't work in a dangerous enviroment so you have no basis for your jaded views, but to make my point it's a little demeaning to require anyone to strip down infront of a stranger in order to piss in a cup. Oh and just incase you were wondering the company is against this policy also because they are affraid it leaves them open to sexual harrassment lawsuits.
Haha, I listen to AFI and cut myself with paper. I'm all about the thrill of danger y'know. I no longer have a cubicle though, they took it away and made me use an office

Ever been a millwright? Metrologist? Talk about high insurance. So no, your attempt to dodge the issue by somehow trying to be "better" is just more of the elitist nanny-state propaganda that is the union koolaid. I can tell you one thing, I've broken picket lines 5 times. And I laughed. Does that make me a badass or are all you union guys scared pussies when it comes to scabs? See, I can do that too.

You still haven't shown how the union has my best interest in mind. All you've done is try to defend a stance against open witness piss tests. Hell, if I have to take a piss test in front of someone I'll make them hold the cup. They've already invaded my privacy for no good reason, WTF does it matter if you've already slid down that slope?
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post #23 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Casper
.

You still haven't shown how the union has my best interest in mind. All you've done is try to defend a stance against open witness piss tests. Hell, if I have to take a piss test in front of someone I'll make them hold the cup. They've already invaded my privacy for no good reason, WTF does it matter if you've already slid down that slope?

The unions fight to keep any and all work enviroments safe. By them looking out for the union's best interest it creates a downstream effect for all workers. For example, if unions lobby congress to pass laws on the levels of Inhalation hazards that may be present on any job site. Do you think the law affects just union workers or all workers? Are union workers the only ones that benefit from these laws?

TRAIN TRASH it's like WHITE TRASH but with money.

My other vehicle is a Locomotive.

Don't cupple up without protection.
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post #24 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 04:25 PM
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fuck unions.

My 401K is now a 400K (was 301K)
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post #25 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreightTrain
The unions fight to keep any and all work enviroments safe. By them looking out for the union's best interest it creates a downstream effect for all workers. For example, if unions lobby congress to pass laws on the levels of Inhalation hazards that may be present on any job site. Do you think the law affects just union workers or all workers? Are union workers the only ones that benefit from these laws?
Oh, you mean things like OSHA rules?

Nice to know that the unions support an agency who thinks they have the right to apply their bullshit in my own home if I so much as log into my email. Yes, they rescinded the analysis but never backed down from their decision, they "simply choose not to enforce OSHA rules on telecommuters". That could change, and the AFL-CIO is in favor of it.

http://www.sbe.csuhayward.edu/~sbesc/00marcol.html

Any more bullshit in my best interest?
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