Your article on OSHA ("Stepping into the middle of OSHA's muddle," The Workplace, Aug. 2) contained a popular misconception: Under President Bush, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration had a hands-off approach. In fact, under Bush, OSHA was more aggressive than it had been under any other President in the history of OSHA's existence. Under Bush, for example, proposed OSHA penalties increased from approximately $57 million in fiscal 1989 to over $116 million in fiscal 1992.
Business employers' perception of OSHA is at or near an all-time low. With the proposed OSHA Reform Act, Washington is moving in the wrong direction.
The OSHA Reform Act would grant OSHA even greater enforcement powers and greatly increase criminal penalties. Instead of blindly moving to enact this punitive legislation, Congress should listen to businesses that are regulated by OSHA. Congress would find out that the overwhelming perception is that OSHA is doing a bad job: Regulations are confusing and hard to understand, and OSHA is wasting its resources in enforcing too many regulations with too little relationship to safety.
While OSHA should be restructured, it should be done in such a way as to provide far more incentives and consultation, and fewer penalties.
Michael S. Holman