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Osha Says Gingrich Ringing False Alarm

Thu., April 25, 1996

House Speaker Newt Gingrich says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires Congress to start holding fire drills.

Not so, according to OSHA.

“We don’t have any requirement for employees to evacuate the workplace in any kind of periodic drill,” Thomas E. Seymour, acting director of the agency’s Directorate of Safety Standards Programs, said Wednesday. In a speech Monday night to a dinner for GOPAC, the political action committee he helped found, Gingrich said the fire drills would occur as a result of the Congressional Accountability Act requiring Congress to live by the same rules its passes for the rest of the country. He touted the law as an achievement of the Republican Congress.

In a veiled slap at OSHA, Gingrich said Congress would follow those laws no matter how silly they sometimes seem.

But according to Seymour, Gingrich was mistaken. OSHA requires only that employers draw up emergency exit plans and that all employees be told about those plans.

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