Henshaw's exit interview with ISHN
ISHN: Our reader research shows only 25-30 percent of safety and health pros attempt to make a business case for safety. Why is your message about adding value not connecting with more professionals?
Henshaw: Some people don't believe it. They may be coming from the old school of safety that says, "We've just got to force it down people's throats." Or maybe the idea that you have to force safety adds more weight to some pros. You know, "No one else can do safety and health; I've got to be the champion because nothing else will sell it."
ISHN: Why is it so difficult to get many companies to view safety and health more broadly than just meeting OSHA mandates?
Henshaw: Many folks might be confused because they are so far away from compliance, that's a milestone that's yet to be achieved. That's OK. But I'd make the argument if you're just focusing on compliance, then you are not a true safety and health professional. All you are is a compliance specialist.
ISHN: Why don't OSHA inspectors go beyond citing violations and issue a report card, assessing the company's safety culture?
Henshaw: We're not psychologists who study organizational cultures. That's some pretty high-level stuff. We can't be there. Others will lead that charge and I commend them. But that's leading edge and I don't think we can do that.
ISHN: Has the culture of OSHA changed to be more cooperative, truly?
Henshaw: I don't know if it's a culture change. It's a broadening of our abilities and the tools we can use. I don't think our people were very happy with inspections as the only tool. Does everybody in OSHA feel this way? Of course not. But there is nothing more frustrating to a compliance officer who is really dedicated to producing a change than to keep hitting that same violator and nothing happens, nothing changes. Our people like to use an array of tools, which we've given them the freedom to use.