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Hearing of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee - The Congressional Workplace: Safety Concerns and Future Plans

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

I want to thank Chairwoman Norton and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart for holding this very important hearing on how the Office of the Architect of the Capitol is addressing workplace hazards identified by the Office of Compliance (OOC). A prime objective of the Congressional Accountability Act is to ensure that Congressional employees are afforded a safe and healthy workplace, in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Since authorization of capital projects for the Congressional workplace is the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we are interested in examining how the Architect of the Capitol both plans for, and executes projects that abate workplace hazards. Further, we are interested in understanding what the current status is in terms of workplace hazards, from multiple perspectives, including: the Office of Compliance; the Architect of the Capitol (Mr Ayres); and from representatives of rank and file employees of the Architect of the Capitol.

I want to thank Chairwoman Norton and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart for holding this very important hearing on how the Office of the Architect of the Capitol is addressing workplace hazards identified by the Office of Compliance (OOC). A prime objective of the Congressional Accountability Act is to ensure that Congressional employees are afforded a safe and healthy workplace, in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Since authorization of capital projects for the Congressional workplace is the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we are interested in examining how the Architect of the Capitol both plans for, and executes projects that abate workplace hazards. Further, we are interested in understanding what the current status is in terms of workplace hazards, from multiple perspectives, including: the Office of Compliance; the Architect of the Capitol (Mr Ayres); and from representatives of rank and file employees of the Architect of the Capitol.

I am pleased to note that the overall trend in terms of abatement of outstanding hazards, both in terms of numbers and severity, is very auspicious: the grand total of hazards identified by the OOC has declined from 13,141 during the 109th Congress, to 9,250 in the 110th Congress, and is projected to be in the vicinity of 6,300 for the 11th Congress. This is a decline of more than 50 percent. Moreover, the severity of hazards, as determined by the designation of each hazard in terms of a Risk Assessment Code (RAC) is also on the wane: the most severe hazards are those assigned to RAC categories I and II, and the percentage of RAC I and II hazards has declined from more than 35 percent in the 109th Congress, to 25 percent in the 110th Congress.

While these statistics show movement in a positive direction, there are still several thousand open items, and 25 percent of the outstanding hazards pose, in the characterization of the OOC, "a high risk" to the safety of Capitol employees and visitors, so this Committee is interested in understanding what impediments stand in the way of abating these hazards.

I look forward to hearing from today's witnesses.


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