The nation's largest association of public health professionals has urged President Reagan to replace the chief of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Thorne G. Auchter.
The group also urged Congress to immediately implement a number of safety standards which, it claims, have been delayed or weakened since Auchter took office.
Both recommendations are included in a resolution passed by the American Public Health Association last week at its annual meeting. The 50,000-member group has been critical of OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency in the past, but this was its first formally adopted resolution to that effect.
While the final resolution doesn't mention Auchter by name, Zoe Clayson, speaking for APHA, said its "intent is clear."
"The resolution makes it clear that we want an assistant secretary of occupational safety and health who is a health professional and is dedicated to promoting the health and safety of the worker," Clayson said. "He is neither a health professional nor dedicated to those goals."
OSHA spokesman Jim Foster said the agency couldn't comment on the resolution because it hadn't seen it. He said Auchter had no intention of resigning.
"Out of five assistant secretaries that this agency has had, only two have been health professionals," said Foster. "That, obviously, is not that important of a criteria.
"Also," Foster said, "anyone who knows Mr. Auchter knows that he is as dedicated as any previous secretary to safety and health."
Auchter contends that OSHA has become more effective under his control. He has attempted to shed the agency's policeman image and make it more cooperative with businesses in solving health and safety problems. Labor unions contend OSHA is more interested in pleasing businesses than in protecting workers.
The APHA resolution was drafted in April and presented to APHA's Joint Policy Committee. That version accused Auchter and his then-deputy, Mark Cowan, by name of "flagrantly ignoring their statutory mandate of . . . assuring safe and healthful working conditions . . . and seriously weakening the protection afforded to workers." It said Auchter should resign.
APHA's joint committee refused to support the resolution, so its proponents took their battle to the APHA's 262-member governing council, which, after much debate, passed the watered-down version.
It says the Labor Department has unnecessarily stayed sections of an OSHA cancer policy and either exempted companies from meeting or substantially weakened standards that protect workers from lead, cotton dust and noise. All of those standards were drafted during the Carter administration. It also contends that OSHA has been weaked by a number of personnel reassignments.
Clayson said copies of the resolution will be sent to the White House, Congress and APHA's lobbying arm.