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Oklahoma labor commissioner opposes proposed OSHA regulation

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello will travel to Washington on Thursday to testify against a proposed federal regulation that federal labor officials have touted as a way to improve workplace safety.
by Randy Ellis Modified: January 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello plans to travel to Washington on Thursday to testify against a proposed federal regulation that U.S. labor officials have touted as a way to improve workplace safety.

The proposal would require about 250,000 U.S. businesses to electronically submit their workplace injury and illness reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration so the information could be posted online.

Costello says it is unproven that making that information available to the public would improve public safety and he expects it to have bad, unintended consequences.

“What is coming out under the federal government today is something which is unprecedented and unproven and, in my opinion, universally unwelcomed,” said Costello, euphemistically referring to the proposed regulation as “naming and shaming.”

Costello said he has discussed the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation with 20 to 25 Oklahoma businessmen and described their reactions as “alarmed, concerned and discouraged.”

Mike Seney, senior vice president of policy analysis and strategic planning for the State Chamber of Oklahoma, agreed with Costello's position.

“Oklahoma business owners know that employees are the most important asset, and the safety of our workers is paramount,” Seney said.

“That being said, the proposed regulations go too far with OSHA planning to post the data online. The recording of an accident or injury does not mean the employer was at fault or tell the full story of what happened.

“Businesses fear the data could provide a misleading view of their workplaces, leading to lawyers trolling for potential lawsuit clients and bureaucrats increasing regulatory burdens.”

Federal labor officials have a far different opinion of the proposed rule.

“We believe the approach we propose is an effective, inexpensive and nonprescriptive way to encourage employers to reduce hazards and therefore save lives and limbs,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said last November at a news conference announcing the proposed rule.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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