In regard to the Aug. 15 front-page story "Bush Forces a Shift in Regulatory Thrust; OSHA Made More Business-Friendly" by Amy Goldstein and Sarah Cohen:
Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities are at their lowest levels ever, while the size of the American workforce has steadily increased. That is the ultimate measure of the success of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. More workers go home safe, healthy and whole to their families at the end of every workday.
The article included a narrow discussion about the agency's regulatory actions on the tuberculosis issue.
Tuberculosis was added to the regulatory agenda in 1993, and since then, the number of tuberculosis cases in the United States has declined by more than 40 percent, in part because of guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Not mentioned in the article was that the CDC and the Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis, considered the nation's leading experts on TB, agreed with OSHA's decision to withdraw the TB rulemaking. OSHA, at the time of the withdrawal, also strengthened its protection for workers exposed to TB by applying the more effective General Industry Respiratory Protection Standard to respiratory protection against TB.
This administration has been engaged in a strong and realistic regulatory agenda. We are working on many workplace health and safety issues, such as emergency exit routes, beryllium, hexavalent chromium, confined spaces in construction, cranes and derricks, fire protection in shipyards, and many others.
Do we still have more to learn and more to accomplish? Absolutely. But the true indicator of success is not activities measured but the reduction of occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace.
JOHN L. HENSHAW
Assistant Secretary of Labor
for Occupational Safety and Health