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OSHA Gutted by Bush White House

Safety standards eased in response to industry pressure
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2008 12:23 PM CST
OSHA Gutted by Bush White House
Former OSHA head John Henshaw startled agency officials by telling them in an early meeting that employers were OSHA's real customers, not the nation's workers.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Under President Bush, political appointees at OSHA caved to industry pressure by withdrawing or watering down workplace health and safety regulations, the Washington Post reports. From 2001 to 2007, the agency issued 86% fewer "economically significant" rules than it did under Clinton. It's "like turning a ketchup bottle upside-down, banging the bottom of the container, and nothing comes out," says a professor and public health expert.

Bush appointees defend the agency, saying they had to deal with "resource constraints." "We focused on improving what we had" rather than issuing new regulations, said OSHA's first director under Bush. Still, OSHA was able to shell out for a $112-an-hour consultant who, among other things, organized two retreats—costing a half-million dollars—to change 22 words in the agency's mission statement. (More OSHA stories.)

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