ISHN interviewed OSHA chief John Henshaw in his Washington office this past October. Here's how he answered the questions: "Are partnerships giveaways? And what can you tell readers about OSHA's alliance with the National Association of Manufacturers?"

Henshaw: "In partnerships, we do actual on-site assessments. We're actually there. We're not giving anything away. We'll still do enforcement. We'll still conduct inspections at facilities. The only one where we give an exemption of programmed inspections is the Voluntary Protection Program. With alliances, since we're talking (mostly) about associations, we're certainly not giving anybody any kind of incentive, a safe harbor or exemption.

"The details haven't been worked out, but I would certainly welcome an alliance with NAM. It's going to be in the education, outreach and assistance area. Members of NAM know that safety and health add value. They want to get up to speed on how to add value to their organizations. Members of NAM (will) still have obligations, they're still part of our programmed inspections if they're under the SST (site-specific targeting). They're still going to be inspected as the result of formal complaints or accident investigations. So nobody is getting away with anything."