The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has crafted a plan for reshaping OSHA that would focus the agency on risk management and productive policies and fill legislative and regulatory gaps that its ability to better protect workers.
The ASSE’s eight-page “OSHA Reform Blueprint” proposal details its priorities and vision for OSHA in a new political landscape.
“Every change in our nation’s leadership provides an opportunity to consider better ways of protecting American workers,” said ASSE President Thomas Cecich, CSP, CIH.
From compliance to risk management
The proposal was vetted by safety professionals from a wide variety of industries, according to the association. It proposes strategies to shift the main focus of OSHA’s mission from solely managing compliance to more effectively reducing workplace risks – a change that would bring America’s regulatory practices in line with global trends while encouraging employer ownership of safety and health in their organizations. Requiring every employer to adopt a safety and health management program would help achieve that goal.
Improving regulatory oversight
“These proposals are grounded in what ASSE’s 37,000 safety and health professionals have learned on the front lines of protecting workers,” said ASSE President Thomas Cecich, CSP, CIH. “We’re confident we can help OSHA and Congress improve the regulatory oversight for occupational safety and health.”
The document discusses OSHA’s recordkeeping system and supports policy changes related to the publication of employers’ records, post-accident drug testing, and the confrontational policy of publicly identifying employers before due process is completed. ASSE seeks collaboration with OSHA to develop recordkeeping strategies that are intuitive and efficient while producing data that helps employers assess and correct hazards. Also, OSHA should recognize employers that are champions of safe workplaces while taking their strongest actions against recalcitrant employers who blatantly disregard the safety of their workers.
Other issues addressed in the reform blueprint include aiming for a greater focus on the primary causes of workplace fatalities and serious injuries, not just total injuries and illnesses; providing federal-level protections to all state and municipal workers in states exempt from OSHA; advancing the prevention of hazardous occupational chemical exposures, including assessing the use of control banding; and increasing third-party audits to expand the reach of OSHA’s limited resources.
How blueprint was developed
The recommendations for OSHA were developed by an ad-hoc working group convened by the ASSE Board of Directors. The group incorporated positions and priorities established by the Society’s Governmental Affairs Committee and its Council on Professional Affairs, as well as taking input from experts in global occupational safety and health regulation, small- and medium-sized businesses, and corporate safety management.
In early May, ASSE representatives shared the OSHA Reform Blueprint in Washington D.C. with some key stakeholders. “This blueprint can be the start of a deep and important conversation about creating a new OSHA that works more effectively for workers and employers,” Cecich said. “If we can take a collaborative approach, these proposed strategies will better protect workers and increase America’s competitiveness across the globe.”
The full document is available on ASSE’s website at http://www.asse.org/osha-reform-blueprint/.