John L. Henshaw
National Safety Congress
September 9, 2003
- Good morning. I'm very pleased to join you today. I want to look both ways this morning -- toward what we've accomplished during the past year and toward what we plan to do next year -- and for the next five years.
- It's really all about results. About our return on investment -- your investment. What have we done with the taxpayers' investment in occupational safety and health? What do we have to show for our efforts?
- We're coming into the homestretch for Fiscal Year 2003 -- and we've got 10 months worth of data to examine. So let's take a look.
Strong, fair and effective enforcement
- During the past year, OSHA has focused on three strategies to drive safety and health performance:
- Strong, fair and effective enforcement
- Outreach, education and compliance assistance
- Partnerships and cooperative programs
- Let's review each of these and then look toward the future.
Outreach, education and compliance assistance
- Enforcement must continue to be the underpinning of everything we do. It must be strong and effective and must produce change where necessary. And we will continue our enforcement emphasis programs and our Site Specific Targeting program, which are based on the data we receive each year from employers in high hazard industries.
- We also have instituted an Enhanced Enforcement Program to address recalcitrant employers -- those who've been repeatedly cited but haven't corrected their problems. We are interested in results -- compliance and reducing hazards and not just counting citations and penalties issued.
- As for where we've been, I'm pleased that as we near the end of the fiscal year, we're ahead of our targets for most of our enforcement measures.
- Comparing our 10-month data with the same period last year, inspections are up, significant cases are up and total violations cited are up. I believe we are maximizing our resources and zeroing in on the sites where we need to be with enforcement. The real measure will be: Have workplaces changed?
- I want to also mention our enforcement related to ergonomics. When we announced our new four-pronged approach to ergonomics 18 months ago, we indicated that enforcement would be a key element. We also said that facilities that were making a good faith effort in addressing ergonomics would not be targeted for enforcement.
- We have followed through with that commitment. As a result, over the last 18 months, we have conducted 1,332 inspections for ergonomics, followed up with hundreds of hazard alert letters. We have issued 11 general duty clause citations. This compares to about 251 ergo inspections from 1989 to 1992 and 87 inspections from 1993 to 2000. What makes this period different is that we have built a different enforcement strategy. It is founded on the litigation success of recent years and built for successful prosecution.
- In the last 18 months a few of our ergo citations and letters have gone to facilities in corporations with very good ergonomics programs. The citations are based upon the fact that the programs were not effectively implemented in the specific facility. This is a critical point. The corporate commitment must be translated to positive action at the individual facilities.
- The bottom line is not the numbers of inspections or citations we issue. It is reducing workplace injuries and illnesses. And the Secretary's strategy is designed to do that.
- There is one number that I want to share with you that is significantly lower this year -- and I'm glad of it. That's fatality investigations. This year we've investigated 164 fewer fatalities than last year. That's a 23% decline. If all other things are equal, which we think fatalities could be -- I stress-could be -- lower for 2003. For God's sake I hope so.
- Next week the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be issuing its fatality statistics for Calendar Year 2002. We hope there's a decline. But our investigations thus far this year lead us to a possibility for an even greater decline in the deaths for 2003.
- We're also making progress on the standard-setting front by meeting deadlines in our regulatory agenda. We've issued three final standards thus far this year, and we are actively working on more than a dozen other rulemakings.
- In addition, we have issued one final ergonomics guideline and two proposed guidelines and have been working on a wide variety of guidance products. Issues we have addressed include controlling silica exposures in construction, scrap metal re-cycling, hazard communication and limiting perchlorethylene exposures in dry cleaning.
Partnerships and Cooperative Programs
- Now let's talk about another strategy we are using to improve safety and health in American workplaces. That's outreach, education and compliance assistance. We've promised to expand assistance for those who want to do the right thing -- and we are doing that in many ways.
- Our resources include 70 compliance assistance specialists that are fully deployed now -- one in each of our area offices. It's their job to help businesses and workers with safety and health training, guidance and encouragement.
- Each state also offers on-site consultation to small businesses through OSHA funding. And our Education Centers are offering many more OSHA training courses -- mostly at community colleges -- and universities.
- We also have more than 35,000 subscribers to our email news memo -- QuickTakes. This is a bi-weekly brief on OSHA policies and progress. I hope you are a subscriber.
- OSHA and state agencies have been busy over the past 10 months, conducting nearly 25,000 consultation visits and meeting with employers and employees for safety and health training sessions and seminars.
- In addition, we handle about 1,900 calls for technical assistance each month. Plus we respond to more than 400 email messages from the public with questions about OSHA standards, services, policies and programs. These are records for the agency.
- Of course, OSHA's website continues to be one of our most popular sources of information. And visits to our website shot up dramatically from 2002 to 2003 -- more than doubling in a year. As an example: our Spanish webpage in Feb 2002 got 2,500 hits a month. In Feb 2003 it received over 23,000 hits.
- Calls to our toll-free helpline have also increased steadily -- by about 6% over the same period last year.
- Our website continues to host more and more visitors in part because of the volume and quality of information provided. This includes Safety Health Information Bulletins, interactive software packages we call eTools and new safety and health topics pages.
- We've also got new publications including an updated version of All About OSHA and Inside the Green Line -- about our work at the World Trade Center.
- In addition, OSHA is providing more safety and health training through its train-the-trainer program -- nearly 250,000 students thus far this year. These are the popular OSHA 10-hour general industry and construction classes -- offered also in Spanish in some locations.
- We are also serious about training -- and certification -- for our own staff. We have had a 40% increase in OSHA staff earning professional certifications over past 18 months.
- More than 12,000 people received training through our 64 Susan Harwood grantees as well. And during the past year we expanded our Education Centers from 12 to 20 so that OSHA training is now available in 35 sites around the country. These centers trained 12,000 trainers, and our training institute reached an additional 3,000.
OSHA 5-Year Plan
- We've found that partnerships and cooperative programs are an excellent way to boost safety and health in the workplace. And we want to see more of them. Yesterday we announced our 1,000 VPP site -- the Titleist Ball Plant #2 in North Dartmouth Massachusetts. VPP as you know is our premier partnership. And VPP sites save millions each year because injury and illness rates at VPP sites are more than 55 percent below the averages for their industries.
- We also have 665 small businesses participating in SHARP -- our recognition program for those who have successfully established effective safety and health systems with the help of our consultation program.
- In addition, we have nearly 200 Strategic Partnerships, with more than 100 in the strategic areas of construction, shipbuilding, food processing, logging, and nursing homes. More than 4,500 employers and 200,000 employees currently participate. And we have signed 80 Alliances focused on training and outreach. And we have signed 80 Alliances focused on training and outreach.
- I am excited about the very strong growth that we've experienced over the past 10 months in our recognition programs. We had targeted growth in 2003 of just over 100 in both SHARP and VPP. But in fact we have 240 new programs -- an increase of 130% over our 2003 target. All this while exceeding our targets in enforcement.
- I am equally pleased with the expansion of Strategic Partnerships and our new Alliances. Together these programs have grown more than 40% beyond what we forecast. Clearly, employers and employees are interested in developing positive, cooperative relationships with OSHA -- and workplaces are benefiting from that commitment.
- We have other partnerships as well -- such as our construction partnerships with the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators and the Council on Certification of Health, Environmental and Safety Technologists.
- As many of you know, OSHA has developed a five-year strategic management plan to guide us through the years ahead. This is our business plan -- a balanced approach to assure we achieve highest performance over the next several years.
- The bottom line on our plan is very simple. It's reducing the rate of fatalities by at least 15% and the rate of injuries/illnesses by at least 20%.
- As I said, our Strategic Management Plan will take a balanced approach to achieve maximum results, the best ROI. We'll be focusing on performance measures, outcomes, and leading and trailing measures to determine our impact.
- We will be targeting high hazard workplaces through our traditional data collection and site specific targeting programs as well as our outreach, partnerships and cooperative programs.
- In addition, we'll focus on hard-to-reach workers such as immigrant workers, contract workers and those who have more than one job or change jobs often. We will also zero in on teen workers.
- We are also going to be addressing nontraditional areas. This includes homeland security and workplace emergencies, motor vehicle fatalities in the workplace and workplace violence. Outreach and partnerships will be particularly important here.
- We will continue our focus on strong, fair and effective enforcement. We are looking to complete over 37,700 inspections in 2003 and in 2004. We expect our state partners to conduct more than 50,000 inspections this year. And consultation programs will complete nearly 30,000 visits.
- For 2003/2004, we will be focusing specifically on seven industries. We believe this is where we can have the greatest impact in reducing injuries, illnesses and deaths -- because these industries experience many severe injuries.
Standards and Guidance
- We will continue the Secretary's four-pronged approach to ergonomics. We expect to issue final guidelines on poultry processing and groceries soon. We'll also draft guidelines for shipyards... and we're exploring where we need to go from there. There will be more.
- The National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics has suggested we hold a symposium for published researchers to discuss research methodologies and issues-and we plan to do that. We will expand our outreach -- through the 16 Alliances focusing on ergonomics and additional ones we will sign. And we'll continue our enforcement efforts.
Compliance Assistance and Cooperative Programs
- We have developed a solid track record, putting our money where our mouth is on OSHA's regulatory agenda. We've said it's a "to do" list not a "wish" list -- and we mean it. And we are holding ourselves accountable for meeting the dates in the agenda.
- We are making good progress in developing a proposal on hexavalent chromium -- and we intend to meet our goal. You will see that we will continue to meet our goals when the new regulatory agenda comes out later this fall.
- Direct intervention will always be necessary to ensure workplace safety and health. At the same time, lasting solutions will come about because employers, workers, and many others embrace a safety and health culture in the workplace. Compliance assistance and cooperative programs are the best vehicles for promoting a safety and health culture.
- As I mentioned earlier, we're exceeding our targets for this year in working cooperatively with employers and employees. We expect to recognize a similar number of sites and establish a like number of partnerships in 2004.
- Partnerships can make a huge difference. OSHA has had partnerships with three stadium projects -- including the Bears' stadium here in Chicago, the new Green Bay stadium and the Patriots' stadium in Massachusetts. And the results have been outstanding.
- There hasn't been a single fatality at any of the sites. And every project has saved a significant amount on workers' comp costs. Why? Commitment to excellence, to holding safety and health at the heart of the effort, and working in partnership with all stakeholders involved. OSHA wants to partner on more projects like these.
- OSHA's alliances are helping us make a very real difference in the workplace. Last month we signed an alliance with Liberty Mutual Research Institute that will help us target our outreach resources toward the most costly injuries -- overexertions, falls and bodily reactions -- based on the institute's Workplace Safety Index.
- Later this morning we will sign an alliance with the International Safety Equipment Association focusing on outreach and communication about the importance of proper selection, use and maintenance of PPE.
- Tomorrow we will sign an agreement with Abbott Laboratories that calls for partnering with business schools to make the business case for safety and health in MBA level seminars. And I am very encouraged about the NSC and ExxonMobile project announced yesterday. I know we can sell safety and health as a key business element.
- And immediately after my speech this morning, I will sign an alliance with the National Safety Council focusing on outreach and communication on such issues as vehicle safety, first aid, CPR and AED training and safety and health management systems.
- Of course, my goal is to find a way to greatly expand Voluntary Protection Programs, our premier partnership. Last year, I challenged the VPPPA to help us find a way to dramatically increase participation in VPP-from 850 to 8,000 sites. We came up with three new VPP initiatives that I announced yesterday in Washington at the VPPPA annual conference. If the pilots work out, these initiatives could bring in up to 2,000 to 3,000 additional VPP sites in a few years.
- The new initiatives include VPP Challenge, VPP Corporate and VPP Construction.
- VPP Challenge -- a phased entry to VPP for sites that have the commitment to excellence but need a strategy to achieve it. Potential for 500 new sites.
- VPP Corporate -- a streamlined application and entry process for corporations that are seeking to bring a significant number of sites into VPP. As many as 1,000 additional sites.
- VPP Construction -- separate criteria for construction sites to address that industry's needs -- based on evaluation of our current demonstration programs. Up to 500 new sites.
- We're also expanding the help we provide to employers and employees -- through our website, our 800 number, our compliance assistance specialists and our training efforts.
- One of our goals is to increase the number of students who receive OSHA training by 10% -- that's next year and for each of the following years as well! We will particularly target youth, immigrant workers and small businesses. In addition we'll focus our outreach on some of the nontraditional issues that we need to address -- ergonomics, motor vehicle accidents and workplace violence.
- OSHA will continue to play a major role in homeland security. We have firmly established our responsibility as the key agency for worker safety and health in emergencies as part of the National Response Team.
- The agency will continue developing helpful materials on its website for first responders and skilled support personnel. We will be announcing specific training in this are very soon. We are also developing two new eTools -- one on emergency site safety and health plans and another on the operation of the incident command system.
- We want to continue to expand our outreach to Hispanic workers. One of our strategies is to hold a Hispanic and Immigrant Worker summit with NIOSH. NACOSH recommended we do this to:
- Showcase success stories.
- Gather information/recommendations for future activities.
- Highlight current OSHA/NIOSH efforts.
- Create new networks among participants.
- We also intend to strengthen OSHA's infrastructure and capabilities. We are moving forward on a diversity initiative, seeking to hire the right people with the language skills and technical experience we need.
- We're emphasizing professional development and certification. Our target is a 10% increase in certifications each year.
- We are developing a balanced, integrated management system that allows us to improve our operations in areas of priority planning and preparing budgets as well as in the areas of program evaluation, personnel development and hiring and retaining a diverse workforce.
- OSHA's strategy is a blueprint for reaching our triple bottom line -- reduced injuries, illnesses and deaths on the job.
- We have a sound plan. We have a balanced approach. We have an innovative, creative strategy.
- Now we just need to work together with safety and health professionals, employers and employees to get results. I know this is the strategy that can move us forward toward our ultimate goal -- zero injuries, illnesses and deaths in America's workplaces.