Senators Thompson, Jeffords, Bond and Enzi Criticize OSHA Roadblocks to GAO Investigation

WASHINGTON — Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN), along with Chairmen James Jeffords (R-VT), Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO), and Mike Enzi (R-WY), today wrote to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) criticizing the agency’s delay of an investigation by the General Accounting Office (GAO) of OSHA’s use of paid expert witnesses in the proposed ergonomics rulemaking. According to the Senators’ letter, OSHA withheld certain essential documents from the GAO investigators even though the documents were clearly relevant to investigation.

“Our citizens have a right to know how their money is being spent,” Chairman Thompson said. “There is evidence that OSHA may have paid expert witnesses far more than normal costs of time and travel to testify in support of the proposed ergonomics regulation. Furthermore, concerns have been raised that OSHA coached the witnesses before the ergonomics hearings.”

The GAO investigators had nearly completed their work when the omission of the documents was disclosed. OSHA has recently granted GAO access to the documents.

“OSHA allowed GAO investigators to operate under the misimpression that they had all relevant information,” Thompson continued. “The investigators should have had access to these documents months earlier.”

The Senators’ June 29th request to GAO was triggered by findings of Congressman David McIntosh’s (R-IN) ongoing investigation of OSHA’s use of contractors in the ergonomics rulemaking. Congressman McIntosh brought to light OSHA’s practice of using an unusually large number of paid contractors; he estimated that some 70 contractors have been paid nearly $2 million to work on the proposed ergonomics regulation.

Attached is the letter from the four Senators protesting OSHA’s delay.

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