Happy Birthday OSHA
By Susen Trail | 02/04/2021
When we started this business, my partner was very surprised to learn that fear based compliance, do it because you might get fined, is pretty much non-existent in the occupational safety world. Last time I checked there were over 8 million businesses in America and less than 1,000 Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, Compliance Officers. In fiscal year 2019 there were 33,401 Inspections. OSHA can only investigate a fraction of the fatality cases that occur every year. They just don’t have the funding or staff.
Since OSHA was promulgated the number of businesses have more than doubled but the fatality and injury rate have fallen by 65%. Enforcement and violations certainly didn't get us there, so, how did they do it? You have to remember that, before OSHA worked with businesses, safety professionals, and labor representatives there were no consistent guidelines and few resources for employers to help them identify what was an unsafe working condition and what to do about it.
If you go to OSHA's website, About Us, you will see the Mission statement "to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance."
When developing the legislation for the Occupational Safety and Health Act Congress stated 13 purposes assigned to the new OSH Administration.
The Number 1 purpose was "encouraging employers and employees in their efforts to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards at their places of employment, and to stimulate employers and employees to institute new and to perfect existing programs for providing safe and healthful working conditions;"
It wasn’t until you got to Number 10 was enforcement mentioned: "By providing an effective enforcement program which shall include a prohibition against giving advance notice of any inspection and sanctions for any individual violating this prohibition;"
While there were 33,406 inspections in Fiscal Year 2019 there were over 1.3 Million employees trained by OSHA’s Compliance Assistance Specialists, CAS, who provide seminars, workshops, and speakers to employers, trade associations, unions, and faith-based groups. There are multiple OSHA Training Institute Education Centers, Outreach Training Program and Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.
OSHA has cooperative programs with strict requirements providing Safety and Health consultants to assist and reward small to medium sized companies willing to excel in workplace safety, including the Voluntary Protection Programs, the Strategic Partnership Program, and the Alliance Program.
OSHA's no-cost On-Site Consultation Program consultants provides confidential on-site workplace assessments exactly the same as a Compliance Officer violation inspection. No fines were assigned but the write up of violations were the same as in an OSHA inspection. In FY 2019 this program identified 137,885 workplace hazards, and protected 3.2 million workers from potential harm.
Not only were the employees protected but businesses working with OSHA saved the economy $1.3 billion dollars and that was just in FY 2019!
So, Thank You OSHA, and Happy Birth Year!