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Is OSHA hurting consulting and training businesses?

August 8, 2003
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As OSHA continues to crank out free training and compliance assistance materials, some workplace safety and health consultants and training vendors are crying foul.

"My tax dollars are going to OSHA, which literally competes against me and every other local consultant," says one agitated consultant in New England. "OSHA was established to be the cop on the beat - not the teacher on the beat. The private sector can well handle the teaching, more professionally and with better resources than OSHA's personnel. But even better and professional can't compete against 'free'.

"If this 'friendly OSHA' trend continues unchecked, us private sector trainers will be gone when OSHA gets bored with the challenges of teaching America's workforce and is told to get back to their core mission of enforcing America's safety laws."

"OSHA wants to provide the best and most accessible information possible to help employers, employees and businesses stay safe, healthy and successful," said OSHA chief John L. Henshaw in a statement accompanying the release of new info on OSHA's Web site relating to workplace emergency preparedness and how OSHA helps small business.

Also new to OSHA's Web site: two training tools to help keep working teens safe on the job- Teen Worker Safety in Restaurants and Youth in Agriculture.

ISHN questioned Henshaw last year about complaints that OSHA is taking business from training vendors and consultants with its free training tools.

"I guess H&R Block would say the same thing about the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), in terms of giving the tools out on how to submit your income tax," replied Henshaw.

"Congress gave us the responsibility 30 years ago to do certain things, and we're executing that, using all the tools and all the ability and responsibility Congress gave us. I can't say much about it except we have to execute the best way we possibly can.

"The good safety and health vendors out there, they can add value in different ways, and they can differentiate themselves from what OSHA can do. That's where their focus ought to be. But just like the IRS and the tax preparers, we have an obligation under the (Occupational Safety and Health) Act and that's what we do."

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