The U.S. is already falling behind other regions of the world in adopting safety and health policies that protect workers, according to the ORC White Paper released yesterday, New Approaches to Establishing National Workplace Safety and Health Policy. For example, while the U.S. continues to rely on outdated hazard-specific standards, around the world both developed and developing nations are recognizing this approach cannot keep up with the pace of workplace change. As a result, outside the U.S., employers are acknowledging their obligation to evaluate all workplace risks and address them appropriately with management systems and competent safety and health resources.
The lack of progress in the U.S. is due, at least in part, “to our collective inability to forge new consensus approaches to improving workplace safety and health policy at the national level,” according to the White Paper. To help break the OSH policy logjam, ORC makes three specific recommendations designed to create a more collaborative infrastructure. Recommendations include:
- National action plan to ensure all employers adopt risk-based approach to safety
- Expert panel and stakeholder review of OSHA’s broken standard-setting process
- Creation of transparent and participatory government policy structure
ORC believes that the 2008 election presents all of us in the safety and health community with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to break the longstanding gridlock on progress in many key areas of safety and health policy. The recommended actions are intended to be the beginning of an effort to change the culture of national safety and health policy making.