You need go no further than to read these excerpts from acting OSHA chief Jordan Barab’s August speech at the national safety and health conference of the United Steelworkers to understand which way the wind is now blowing in Washington:

“Under this new administration, OSHA is heading back to the original intent of the OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) Act. We're back in the enforcement business and the standards-writing business.

“Secretary Solis has also announced that OSHA will be shifting the bulk of our energy and resources from cooperative programs to enforcing existing standards. In response to this change of priorities… OSHA is taking a hard look at how its cooperative programs will be run in the future. These include our Voluntary Protection Programs and the Alliance Program.

“OSHA is also raising its penalties - not simply to punish, but to provide a real disincentive to those employers who accept worker injuries as "an unavoidable part of the cost of doing business."

”We also hope that OSHA penalties will be seen as an incentive to adopt an effective safety and health management program that includes worker participation.”