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U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill is suggesting that all the government’s workplace safety regulations should be replaced by one single, very strict standard. "We would be better off if we made the [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standards advisory, including the ergonomic standards advisory." He made his comments while speaking at a national conference on workplace safety.
Instead of the current myriad of federal standards, O’Neill suggested that OSHA could make this edict: "Within two years, every organization in the United States, public, private, nonprofits, will have a lost workday rate under 2.0, or we’re going to take away your license."
O’Neill previously gained praise from labor unions for his heavy emphasis on worker safety as head of Alcoa Inc. He told the conference attendees that such a tough standard would quickly gain the attention of American business. He predicted that between 95% and 98% of American companies would be able to meet that standard, which means two lost workdays every year per 100 full-time employees. The national average is about 3.5 lost workdays to injury annually per 100 employees. The Treasury Department already meets the 2.0 lost workday rate.