Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Revving Up the Review Commission: After W. Scott Railton Took over as Chair of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Last Year, He Learned That Scores of Cases Have Been Awaiting Review for Years. Newly Confirmed by the U.S. Senate to a Four-Year Term, Railton Wants to Cut the Backlog

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Revving Up the Review Commission: After W. Scott Railton Took over as Chair of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Last Year, He Learned That Scores of Cases Have Been Awaiting Review for Years. Newly Confirmed by the U.S. Senate to a Four-Year Term, Railton Wants to Cut the Backlog

Article excerpt

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Occupational Hazards: As chairman of the Review Commission, you are responsible for the agency's day-to-day operations, in addition to ruling on cases with the other commissioners. What goals do you have for the commission?

Railton: My goal is to reduce the time it takes us to review cases. When I arrived here, I was appalled at the backlog. I don't mean to criticize my predecessors; I have no explanation for why this backlog developed. There are at least 40 cases that are more than two or three years old on the commission's docket. One case has been sitting here for seven years.

I want the commission to complete its review of cases in six months, and I want our administrative judges to decide the most complex cases in 12 months. So my goal is that from start to finish, the longest cases will be decided in 18 months.

OH: Why is speeding up the review process so important to you?

Railton: I have this goal not because I want to put a whip to everybody. It seems to me there were two basic reasons why the commission was established in the first place. The first goal was fairness, so that employers feel they get a fair shake, rather than have their cases decided by the Department of Labor. But justice delayed is justice denied.

The second purpose of the commission is to improve occupational safety and health.

OH: How will reducing the backlog contribute to occupational safety?

Railton: The public, labor and management have a right to know what our views of the standards are. …

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