American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Warren K. Brown, CSP, ARM, CSHM, of Dearborn, Ohio, testified on the “strides OSHA has made over the years, its positive impact and issues it faces” at the April 28 Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Policy Committee Congressional hearing on “Introducing Meaningful Incentives for Safe Workplaces,” according to an ASSE press release.

“There is little doubt among this nation’s leading employers that a commitment to effective safety and health programs provides U.S. business with a competitive advantage,” Brown said. “It is especially important in today’s harsh economic times that we need a vocal leader, such as OSHA, to help convince companies that the last place cuts should be made is in their safety and health programs.

“We ask a lot of OSHA. It has a tough job and is an easy target for complaint. But any changes in OSHA must go beyond simple solutions,” Brown said. “Some complain OSHA misses hazards in inspections, but OSHA’s website indicates just how many standards and guidance documents its inspectors must know. So better training is an issue, too. Some complain OSHA negotiates fines away. But OSHA’s front-line staff is forced to balance further legal action against a company willing to address the problem and wanting to move on to other complaints. Some complain OSHA does not issue enough standards. But overlooked is just how the existing standards pose a challenge to employers, employees, safety and health professionals, and even OSHA in adequately enforcing those standards. “

Brown noted at the end of his testimony, “Be careful. There are no easy answers.”