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OSHA in the hot seat

Capitol Hill

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Today in Washington, the Senate takes a hard look at OSHA. That's the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA handles workplace injuries and things that might threaten the safety of people on the job. But critics say OSHA hasn't been doing its job.Steve Henn reports.


STEVE HENN: Five years ago today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention sent out an emergency memo warning that a common chemical used in artificial butter was linked to a rare and potentially deadly lung disease.
DR. DAVID MICHAELS: Since then OSHA has done virtually nothing.

Dr. David Michaels follows OSHA enforcement at George Washington University.

Until this year OSHA had not taken any steps to write new rules about this food additive even though it's used at thousands of plants. Peg Siminario is at the AFL-CIO.

PEG SIMINARIO: They are doing nothing to reduce exposure to cancer causing agents and other chemicals in the workplace.

OSHA administrators say writing new rules takes time. They note that workplace illness and injury rates have fallen 13 percent since 2002 and they credit aggressive enforcement. But a University of Michigan study found the agency's statistics miss roughly two workplace injuries for each one they catch.In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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