ASSE Governmental Affairs committee chair Thomas F. Cecich, CSP, CIH, of Apex, N.C., testified today on the benefits of OSHA's cooperative programs before a Senate subcommittee. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions' Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety's hearing discussed the topic "Is OSHA Working for Working People?"

Cecich noted that while it is true that OSHA is a regulatory enforcement agency, practicing safety professionals know that enforcement alone is not sufficient in eliminating workplace injuries and illnesses in this country.

"Most SH&E professionals believe that for OSHA to achieve its Congressional mandate of eliminating occupational injuries and illnesses, it is essential that OSHA utilize a broad array of tools in order to reach all types of organizations," Cecich said. "Consultative services, alliances, cooperative programs, training and education, standards setting and enforcement are all tools that OSHA must utilize. With less than 3000 employees to serve more than six million businesses, it is vital that OSHA leverage all its resources to obtain the maximum benefit."

Cecich also noted opportunities to improve OSHA.

"The OSH Act has changed little in 36 years, yet during that time, huge changes and many advances have occurred in U.S. workplaces and our workforce," Cecich said. "However, like world-class organizations, OSHA must seek to continuously improve its safety and health processes. ASSE hopes that Congress can provide OSHA with the guidance and support OSHA needs to continuously reinvent itself to meet the needs of this nation's workforce."

"The workplace is rapidly changing due to new technologies, a changing workforce, and globalization," Cecich said. "Limitations in the original act, subsequent congressional and executive branch actions, resource constraints at OSHA and a litany of private court challenges have resulted in an inability of OSHA to update old regulations and to develop new standards in a timely manner to protect the U.S. workforce. We encourage Congress to engage in stakeholder dialogue to improve its standard-setting process to protect workers while preserving the productivity of American business."

Through its alliances and partnerships, Cecich told the subcommittee that OSHA has been able to create quality guidance documents, best practices and Web-based informational resources.