Bert M. Concklin served as assistant secretary in the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1975 and 1976. He is corporate director of government relations and group vice president for program development at the Planning Research Corp.
The department, overall, is in virtually a no-growth posture with a 273-person increase between fiscal 1992 and fiscal 1991 . . . . With the exception of water and air pollution, which the Environmental Protection Agency is charged with ameliorating, occupational safety and health, and especially health, remains one of the nation's most neglected areas of public policy . . . .
Reducing health hazard enforcement to a "cost-benefit" equation . . . has always been highly controversial on conceptual, analytical and moral grounds. However, that system exists and must be dealt with. The often daunting reality of the cost-benefit numbers (for example, the equation says that it costs $2.8 million for each death avoided because of control of grain dust in the workplaces) makes it easy to justify going slow or suspending enforcement related to deadly health hazards . . . .
What must be done is to continue with an ever-increasing campaign to remove or reduce workplace health hazards to a very low and acceptable level, which means increasing OSHA health professionals.