OSHA Past, Present and FuturePASTThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA is a part of the US Department of Labor, and was started in 1970 as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Its mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths by issuing and enforcing rules (called standards) for workplace safety and health. Since it's inception it has helped to cut the incidents of workplace fatalities by sixty percent, and occupational injury and illness rates by forty percent. This presentation will present what OSHA has accomplished in the past, present and what it hopes to accomplish in the future. There are many reasons for the introduction of an organization like OSHA. In the 18th century workers, during the English Industrial revolution, People worked in the coal mines naked, because there was no governmental regulation.
At the onset of the Industrial revolution in America there wasn't much in the way of protecting it's workforce either, from abuse by their employers. Unsafe working conditions and child labor was prevalent in industry. In 1884 the first agency designed to address labor issues was called the Bureau of Labor. At this time it was a part of the Department of the Interior, as there was no Department of Labor.
The department of Labor was established as a cabinet level agency in 1913. Some of the major changes to industrial safety since OSHA was established, are as follows. In 1970 they established the use of guards on all moving parts to prevent contact with moving machinery. Permissible exposure limits on air borne chemicals and dust particles.
Also the emphasis on personal protective equipment in the work place. In the 1980's OSHA started the Lockout Tagout program where businesses are required to put locks and tags on equipment that is in the off or de energized state, while maintenance or repair work is being performed. In 1990 they instituted the confined space program to cut down on the number of deaths and injuries due to workers entering manholes, pits, bins and other confined spaces. They also instituted the Hazard communication process, or "Right to know". This is a system of information readily available to workers on the chemicals used in the work place.
PRESENT OSHA currently has 2,200 employees including 1,100 inspectors and a budget of over $468 Million. Trying to enforce the regulations under these circumstances would be a monumental task. OSHA is making great strides to become more proactive. Under the Bush Administration OSHA has developed a 3-pronged plan: o Strong, fair, and effective enforcement o Outreach, Education, and Compliance Assistance Partnership and Cooperative Programs Enforcement is the foundation of OSHA's effort to protect the health and safety of American workers. OSHA's mission is to have every American worker home, whole and healthy every day.
Last year less than 1% of their inspectors were under the Enhanced Enforcement Program, which targets Employers who willfully and repeatedly violate the rules. Outreach, Education and Assistance helps OSHA play a key role in prevention of worker injury and illness. OSHA maintains an extensive and informative web site including a section that focuses on small business, tools to help both workers and employers identify and address special hazards, also to prevent illness. Last year alone, more than 50 Million people logged onto this web site. The agency provides publications in print and online to aid in training.
OSHA also maintains a call center staffed during business hours and a 24-hour hotline for problems after hours. In order to help non - English speaking people OSHA provides material and help in regional offices in Spanish, Japanese, Polish and Korean. OSHA has several Cooperative Programs. The Alliance Program focuses on Labor, Trade and Professional organizations as well as Business Educational and other Government Agencies that have an interest in workplace safety. The Strategic Partnership Program (OSPP) is where OSHA enters a long-term agreement between OHSA and groups of employers and or employees to improve workplace safety. The agreements are usually a 3 or more year contract that focus on safety and health programs that include enforcement, outreach, and training to help eliminate serious hazards and facilitate measurement to verify effectiveness.
These strive to be a win - win situation for both groups. Sometimes Insurance companies and other groups are included for the technical expertise they can bring to the table. This allows OSHA to serve as a facilitator and technical resource. This also helps OSHA spread its message and better leverage its meager resources to reach even more companies and workers. This in turn allows OSHA to focus its Enforcement Program efforts where they are needed most. The OSPP benefits the employer by helping them control their medical cost and worker compensation rates.
It promotes a corporate culture of worker health and safety, improves morale and productivity, and lowers absenteeism. Another benefit to both groups is it changes their relationship from one of adversarial to one of cooperation. Employers find that OSHA is a willing listener as well as an effective ally. Since 1995 more than 59,000 employee and 13,000 companies have participated in OSPP. They have addressed serious illness and health problems and brought about a reduction in fatalities, injuries and illnesses such as silica and lead exposure, falls and electrocutions.
An example is Con Agra Refrigerated food / UFCW who instituted many new accountability programs and several steering committees at various levels. Five of their facilities saw a decrease in worker compensation cost ranging from 42% to 93% with the average being 62%. The Safety and Health recognition program (SHARP) recognizes companies who show exemplary achievement in workplace safety and health. The Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) which is OSHA's premiere partnership that recognizes health and safety excellence. Today VPP sites save Millions each year because their health and safety ratings are more than 50% below the average for their industry. Brown and Serve in St. Charles Illinois saw a 93% savings of over $200,000 since 1997.
FUTURE Due to the ever-changing technologies and manufacturing processes, OSHA must also keep changing. With that said, each year OSHA reviews its goals toward reducing workplace injury, illness and fatality rates. In 2003, OSHA created a Strategic Management Plan, which listed its goals through to 2008. Under this plan, OSHA plans to achieve three major goals. o The first is to reduce occupational hazards through direct intervention. It plans to work closely within the Department of Labor to prepare and train the workforce to enhance the quality of life of working men and women. o The second goal is to promote a safety and healthy culture through compliance assistance, cooperative programs and strong leadership. o The third goal is to maximize OSHA's effectiveness and efficiency by strengthening their capabilities and infrastructure. Since the inception of OSHA, the American workforce changed significantly.
It has become more diverse, concerning age, gender, race and nationality. The marketplace has shifted from one that produces goods to one that provides services. More work is being contracted, outsourced or part time. Because of these changes, OSHA must approach the training of the workforce in a different manner. A growing concern is that of the immigrant worker. Immigrant workers and employers are harder to reach.
Many immigrants are less literate, unable to read English instructions, and work in some of the most dangerous jobs. Therefore, additional resources must be provided to address this portion of the workforce. OSHA plans direct intervention, to ensure the policies and procedures are being followed. The major interaction will be one-on-one with employers, and their employees. These interactions will include inspecting workplaces, and providing assistance after consulting with employers.
OSHA will also provide assistance, training, and recognition programs. The programs that OSHA will implement are designed to reduce fatalities, injuries and illnesses. However, each program will be tailored to suit the needs of the particular employer or workplace. To ensure success with these programs OSHA plans to improve collection, tracking and analysis of information. Then based on the analysis of the information OSHA plans to target new areas, and develop new training. In order to meet the needs for additional training and implementing new plans OSHA must strengthen their infrastructure and capabilities.
One part of this effort, which differs from past OSHA efforts, is using customer communication as an information source. Another major task to improve capabilities will be to conduct a comprehensive workforce skills assessment and enhance future technical competency. Another key element to future growth, is OSHA's commitment to maintain Information Technology (IT) for a mobile workforce. This enables OSHA to deploy a mobile staff that maintains real-time communication with the central organization.
In conclusion, OSHA has its hands full trying to keep up with technology and manufacturing processes. Wireless communications as well as computing have enabled the manufacturing industry to rapidly advance and it's up to OSHA to do the same.