By Aaron Trippler, Director, AIHA® Government Affairs
The voters have spoken, and Washington is preparing for another session of a Congress that will look
much different from the one about to conclude.
The ramifications of the midterm elections will affect
legislative action in Congress and occupational health
and safety activity at the agency level. At the very
least, changes in legislative leadership will affect the
Leadership in the Senate will likely remain as is: Expect
Senator Tom Harkin to remain chairman of the Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and
Senator Patty Murray to remain chairwoman of the sub-
committee that oversees OSHA. Senator Mike Enzi is also
likely to continue as the Republican leader on the HELP
The House leadership will experience considerable
change. Rep. George Miller is out as chairman of the
House Education and Labor Committee, with Rep. John
Kline the likely successor. Who might chair the subcom-
mittee with OSHA oversight has yet to be determined,
but Rep. Lynn Woolsey is out.
Under a Republican-controlled House, OSHA is unlikely
to receive additional authority to impose regulations on
employers. Republicans have hinted they are unwilling to
consider substantial changes to the way OSHA operates
and have already announced there will be more oversight
of regulatory agencies. Of course, industry hopes the
House will go even further than simple oversight and stop
several activities within OSHA.
The following issues may come up for discussion during
the new Congress:
Mine Safety and Health. Republicans may sit down with
Democrats and work out a bill that would provide addi-
tional health and safety measures in the mining industry.
Whether this bill will go as far as the bill introduced in
2010 is unclear.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program Rule. Industry
may work with House leadership to stop OSHA’s efforts
to enact an injury and illness prevention program rule.
The most obvious way to stop agency efforts is through
the appropriations process.
MSD 300 Log Addition. Industry will also work to enlist
the support of Republicans to stop OSHA from moving
forward on this proposal, which industry views as a “back