OSHA chief's resignation just days away
- By Kerry Hall, Charlotte Observer, NC
Democrats have criticized Foulke as soft on enforcement and slow to enact regulations. Union leaders say OSHA hasn't done enough to protect workers from injuries associated with repetitive motion, and they criticize the agency's refusal to issue emergency standards covering pandemic flu preparedness and exposure to diacetyl, a butter-flavoring chemical used in microwave popcorn. Diacetyl has been linked to lung disease in food workers.
In an investigation into the poultry industry early this year, the Observer found weak enforcement and minimal fines have allowed companies to ignore hazards that can kill or injure workers. The Observer also documented how some on-the-job injuries haven't been reported in the poultry industry. Workplace safety advocates say such underreporting has increased in recent years, and in effect makes America's workplaces appear safer than they may be.
“I see such an incredible lack of urgency on the part of your agency to protect workers that it is astounding,” Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who heads the House Education and Labor Committee, told Foulke at a March hearing about an explosion at a sugar refinery that killed 13 workers.