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Since the results are to be made available to
One such company with a reputedly "skilled" medical staff
is the Dupont Corp.
However, the trust granted by OSHA and the
Court was cavalierly violated by even Dupont. As a result of a long, detailed investigation, OSHA cited Dupont in 1979 for failing to provide accurate medical examinations to pipefitters exposed to asbestos at its Gibbstown, N.J. plant. (see Appendix I)
OSHA also cited the company for willfully violating the Act, as follows:
the employer did not adequately correlate and
b) The administration and organization, within em-
The lesson of this tragedy is that employers, even the socalled "best" employers, are not to be trusted to adequately
evaluate available information indicating the presence of occupa
tional diseases among their workers.
The incentives to do other
wise are simply too strong.
However, there is another lesson from the asbestos tragedy.
The 1972 standard contains no requirement that asbestos-related illnesses be reported to anyone outside the company. This defect is present as well in every other OSHA health standard. Further
more, OSHA has yet to seek that information from employers, using
its right of access. Accordingly, no cases of illnesses are reported to OSHA or NIOSH, and the responsible officials continue their tasks in blissful ignorance.
Such a reporting system is not only a nice idea it already
Under the Mine Safety Acts, the coal miners examinations
are actually performed by independent physicians and reviewed by NIOSH. Why could not the same be done for workers exposed to asbestos, lead, cotton dust or benzene. Our detailed knowledge of the current prevalence of black lung disease stands in stark contrast to our pitiable ignorance concerning the rest of the occupational diseases. The situation is easily remedied, if we
would but do so.
OSHA, however, appears to be moving in exactly the opposite direction. We believed, when the noise standard was amended,
that OSHA would finally require an accurate accounting of cases of
occupational hearing loss.
The amendment to the standard, even
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after undergoing considerable weakening at the hands of the Reagan Administration, still contained a reasonable definition of "significant threshold shift (STS)." The need for a uniform definition was widely cited during the rulemaking by employers and professional audiologists as well as the trade union movement.
However, OSHA deleted the requirement to enter STS cases on the
log when it revised the standard.
Moreover, OSHA has persisted
in that effort. For instance, OSHA Policy Director Anthony Goldin recently requested the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety & Health to review a proposal to issue additional dis
claimers from both OSHA and the BLS to further protect employers
from any admission that recorded cases of occupational hearing
loss are in fact work-related.
Mr. Goldin took this action after
his staff had recommended in an earlier proposal that "work relationship is presumed when the employee (with STS) has been exposed
to noise levels exceeding 85 dBA."
These efforts by OSHA will only further reduce the number of
recordable occupational illnesses, and prolong the day when the
true facts of the epidemic in the workplace are allowed to sur
serious effort will be ever made to identify the true incidence
of occupational illnesses as long as this sort of behavior on the
part of OSHA persists.
AMALGAMATED CLOTHING AND TEXTILE
Eric Frumin, Director of
National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, Pilot
Fine, L.J., et al, "An Alternative Way of Detecting Cumulative Trauma Disorders of the Upper Extremities in the Workplace," Proceedings of the 1984 International Conference on Occupational Ergonomics, 425-9, 1984. System Sciences, Inc., "Comparison of Employer-Originated Fatal Accident Reports to N.C. OSHA With Medical Examiner's Reports for North Carolina, 1978-79," Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980. Kronebusch, K., "Occupational Injury Data: Are We Collecting What We Need For Identification, Prevention, and Evaluation," in Proceeding of the 19th National Meeting of the Public Health Conference on Records and Statistics, Washington, D.C.,
1983. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Injuries and Illness in the United States by Industry, 1982, Washington, D.C., 1984,
Hilaski, H.J., and Wang, C.L., "How valid are estimates of occupational illness?", Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 105:8, p. 27, 1982.
IUD v. Hodgson, 499 F. 2d 467 (D.C. Circ. 1974).