Safety and Health:

Worker Safety and Health Oversight Issues Facing DOE

T-RCED-94-54: Published: Oct 21, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 21, 1993.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to protect the safety and health of its workers, focusing on: (1) the recent increase in occupational safety problems; (2) the DOE safety and health initiatives announced in May 1993; (3) DOE efforts to develop a safety policy that defines what is expected of contractors and their workers; (4) DOE efforts to ensure that the Office of Environment, Safety and Health (ES&H) has adequate authority, independence, and resources to do its job; and (5) DOE efforts to plan an effective transition to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversight. GAO noted that: (1) DOE facilities continue to experience occupational safety and health problems that indicate that DOE needs to do more to establish a sound, consistent safety environment at its facilities; (2) independent internal oversight is key to ensuring a safe work environment, since the ES&H Office does not have adequate staff or the authority to oversee and enforce safety and health policy; (3) recent changes in DOE structure could improve safety and health by increasing ES&H authority and bringing DOE facilities under OSHA oversight; (4) DOE still lacks a clear safety and health policy and specific goals; (5) the lack of adequate staff could limit the ES&H Office's ability to conduct vigorous oversight; and (6) DOE transition to OSHA oversight has not yet been well defined.

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