National News Release USDL: 00-376
Friday, Dec. 22, 2000
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming
PHONE: (202) 693-1999
OSHA Lists Highlights of Three Decades
MEETING THE MANDATE: SAVING LIVES, PREVENTING INJURY, PRESERVING HEALTH
At the beginning of its fourth decade, OSHA is meeting its mandate to see that workers go home whole and healthy. Since President Richard M. Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act on Dec. 29, 1970, work-related fatalities are down 50 percent and occupational injuries have declined by 40 percent.
"The OSH Act established that America's workplaces should be free of hazards that threaten the lives and health of workers," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. "We have made significant progress towards that goal."
During the past 30 years, more than 700 work sites with topnotch safety and health programs have been recognized under the Voluntary Protection Programs, and the agency is currently participating in nearly 100 additional specialized partnerships to find and fix hazards covering almost 110,000 employees across the country. More than 2.1 million individuals have taken safety
and health training through OSHA-sponsored programs while nearly 400,000 employers, mostly small businesses, have received free consultations to help them correct nearly 3 million hazards. Federal and state OSHA inspectors have visited more than 2.6 million worksites to help assure workplace safety and health.
"We're proud of the progress we've made in our first three decades, but all too aware that today more than 16 workers leave home each morning never to return," said Assistant Secretary of Labor Charles N. Jeffress. "Working with employers and employees, using enforcement, safety and health standards, partnerships and training programs, OSHA continues to promote the best possible protections for American workers."
Among OSHA's success stories, the cotton dust standard stands out as a clear win-for workers, employers and the U.S. economy. The number of workers with byssinosis or "brown lung" has fallen during the past 22 years from12,000 to about 700 today as a result of reduced exposures mandated by the 1978 standard. At the same time, the actual capital costs of the standard were lower than OSHA predicted-$153 million instead of $550 million, and productivity in the textile industry grew more rapidly after the standard was promulgated than it had before.
Other highlights include standards on hazard communication, bloodborne pathogens and ergonomics, the agency's Voluntary Protection Program and strategic partnerships, free consultations for small employers, the site-specific inspection targeting program, the agency's phone-fax procedure to speed handling of complaints and the extensive educational materials available on OSHA's website.
(Editor's note: Attached is a fact sheet listing significant milestones in OSHA's 30-year history. The text of this news release and the fact sheet are available on the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov.)
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