On the eve of an historic national election that has been dominated by promises of change, ORC Worldwide called on the occupational safety and health community and the new administration to create a more collaborative infrastructure and break the cycle of confrontation that has long stymied progress in reducing workplace injuries and illnesses, according to a press statement.

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 For example, while the U.S. continues to rely on outdated hazard-specific standards, around the world both developed and developing nations are recognizing this approach cannot keep up with the pace of workplace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 evaluateall workplace risksand 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
“We are frankly weary of the culture of confrontation that perennially pervades the debates over workplace safety and health policy, that leads to political stalemate and that has alienated much of the safety and health community,” says ORC Senior Vice President in the White Paper.

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.