Tuesday, July 13, 2010

GUEST BLOG - Congressional Office of Compliance Confirms: Congress is Dangerous to Your Health

Okay conspiracy theorists. Do you think the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico held this story until Rick was out of town? In a front page story today “Dangers on the Hill” Politico reported that Congress’ Office of Compliance have found an estimated 6,300 safety hazards that are “potentially fatal or could leave victims with serious injuries."

That’s right, Congress is dangerous to your health.

Here are some of the juiciest excerpts from the story. In Rick's honor, we provide commentary after each excerpt, Woldenberg style:

“Workplace safety experts say that if Congress were a private-sector business, it would be at risk for massive fines from government regulators.” (oh, the irony!)

“But Congress has exempted itself from key parts of federal workplace law.” (Without even proving it was impracticatable for Mr. Waxman to comply?)

…the latest study offers arresting detail. Investigators estimate there are 1,742 electrical hazards, 1,058 fire-safety hazards, 102 storage shelving issues, 61 first-aid emergency-care lapses and 70 machine-guarding problems, to name a few found so far." (Hey, no lead violations?)

The report divides the hazards into categories, with some more routine and others potentially life threatening. (Wait a minute, that sounds like risk assessment!)

“Furthermore, the report makes clear that the hazards may prove dangerous to Capitol Hill visitors, including constituents and lobbyists.” (in other words, visiting Congress is hazardous to....people)

“This measure was inspired by that year’s new Republican majority and some Democrats who were aggrieved by what they saw as supreme hypocrisy: Congress and regulatory agencies imposed all manner of rules on the private sector and the states through laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act, but lawmakers themselves did not have to obey those rules.” (Can anyone think of another law that they could have included – hint –it rhymes with SHEE SHPEE SHESH SHI SHAY)

The compliance office cannot issue investigative subpoenas to Congress and its entities, even to seek information that could solve a workplace hazard. (Call in the AGs!)

Whistleblower protections for staffers who report hazards are essentially nonexistent, leaving aides responsible for their own litigation costs if they are fired or an office retaliates against them. (C’mon, the Onion couldn’t write a better article – oh the hypocrisy!)

“It’s hard to defend Congress when things are this bad,” said Center for Progressive Reform board member Sidney Shapiro, ... But if Congress is going to insist on running its own safety regime, then it ought to do it the right way.” (Are we sure they’re not talking about CPSIA?)

“Congress faces a major challenge in trying to fund fire- and life-safety projects, historical preservation and deferred maintenance campuswide, all within very limited resources,” said a congressional aide familiar with the blue-ribbon panel. (Hey, they told us safety at any cost – even if the costs don’t improve safety)

“On the upside, a number of offices have become more proactive about protecting safety by voluntarily requesting inspections ahead of the compliance office’s regular schedule; 154 offices in the 111th Congress achieved hazard-free status. “Over the years, we’ve found that working cooperatively with employing offices to reduce hazardous conditions in the Capitol complex can be more effective than a confrontational approach. The statistics bear this out by showing remarkable progress in reducing hazards.” [Working cooperatively? What a novel idea! Nah, we say use the CPSIA model – enforce, enforce, enforce, treat every risk equally, discourage cooperation and levy huge fines!]

We couldn't make this stuff up. To read the entire article for yourself, click here. (warning it’s about 1800 words).

Posted by the Alliance for Children's Product Safety Staff


Anonymous said...

This is excellent. Aren't double standards wonderful??

Steve said...

“Furthermore, the report makes clear that the hazards may prove dangerous to Capitol Hill visitors, including constituents and lobbyists.”

Sniff. Sniff. They care about lobbyists too...