March 27, 2008 The Pump Handle 0Comment

The Senate HELP Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety announced that former OSHA Assistant Secretary, Mr. Gerard Scannell, will testify at next week’s hearing on workplace safety.  He was the OSHA chief during the George H.W. Bush administration, and a long-time officer with the National Safety Council. 

The hearing (previous post here) about serious and repeat violators of worker safety protections will also feature testimony by Mr. Eric Frumin, Director of OHS for Unite!Here, who will likely discuss corporate bad actors, link Cintas (post here).   I’m so pleased to read that Senator Murray’s staff invited Mr. Scannell to testify, and that he agreed to do so.   

During my formative years working at OSHA, Mr. Scannell was the head of the agency.  I was impressed with his genuine compassion for working people, and his sincere belief that employers had a duty—legal and moral—to ensure workplaces were safe.  He was a committed advocate for comprehensive management systems to control and eliminate hazards—like the process safety management standard—as well as a proponent of using the general duty clause for ergonomic hazards and instance-by-instance sanctions for recordkeeping and other violations.  As a GS-7 analyst, I observed how he tactfully manuevered OMB’s and the White House’s political views with his personal commitment to workers’ rights.  He provides a great example of how significant improvements can be made using the OSH Act despite the challenging system and the politics.    


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