An article in the May 6 Buffalo News is unjustifiably critical of my agency, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. This agency has been the target of attacks from the media, the public, labor and management groups and I would be remiss if I did not respond.
I realize that the quotes in the article about OSHA are based on a national perspective. Nonetheless, the workers and employees in the 10-county area of Western New York can be proud of OSHA's Buffalo area office.
Of the 10 area offices that make up Region 2 (New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico) the Buffalo office has the best record for the number of inspections conducted, and our compliance and clerical staffs are among the most highly rated. Penalties from this office range in five figures for those employers who knowingly expose their workers to safety and health hazards. The Buffalo office is actively monitoring ergonomic (repetitive motion), AIDS, health hazards and safety hazards in both general industry and construction.
The probability of reducing injuries in the work place to zero is nil, as is the possibility of eliminating all health hazards, due to the vast number of chemicals that enter the work place daily. Yet to say that the Buffalo area office has been weakened due to political pressure from the White House cannot be considered valid. The office now has a larger budget, we do more employee training, more inspections, and have more face-to-face talks with employer-employee groups than at any time in the past.
It is true that we cannot shut a job down, as the AFL-CIO would want, but Congress did not want us to go around shutting jobs down. We can, however, if there is imminent danger, post the job and obtain a court order for the company to cease and desist the hazardous operation.
Fortunately, in Western New York, we have not had to rely on this procedure often.
RICHARD J. BRADLEY
Buffalo Area Office
and Health Administration