OSHA's newest cooperative programs are making inroads
with an ever-growing number and variety of workplaces and industries.
by Nilgun Tolek
Alliances are the newest of OSHA's cooperative programs. They provide
a novel means for the agency to achieve its mission of preventing
injuries and illnesses-by collaborating with organizations
that share OSHA's commitment to improving workplace safety
OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw, first row, center, gathers
with representatives of 13 airlines and the National Safety
Council's International Air Transport Section to sign an
alliance promoting worker safety and health in the industry.
OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw sees alliances as a natural extension
of Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao's department-wide effort
to increase outreach and assistant efforts. "We in OSHA have
expanded our cooperative programs to include this new way of working
with OSHA," Henshaw told members of the Society of the Plastics
Industry, Inc., as he welcomed them into their new alliance with
OSHA in September. "We're leveraging resources by jointly
promoting safe and healthful working conditions in many industries
through associations like yours."
According to Paula White, director of Cooperative and State Programs,
organizations are highly receptive to the idea of alliances, which
are open to all-trade or professional organizations, businesses,
labor organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies.
OSHA stakeholders recognize the many benefits to participating in
an alliance, such as building trusting, cooperative relationships
with the agency; networking with others committed to workplace safety
and health; leveraging resources to maximize worker safety and health
protection; and gaining recognition as proactive leaders in safety
Alliances have few formal program requirements. Unlike OSHA's
Strategic Partnerships, they have no enforcement component and no
data-gathering requirements. Alliances are also unique in that they
are not site-based agreements focused on conditions at a particular
workplace or workplaces. Rather, they focus on outreach, education,
or dialogue within entire industries or sectors.
Although they are less structured than other cooperative agreements,
alliances do require OSHA and the participating organizations to
define, implement, and meet a set of short- and long-term goals.
Goals may focus on training and education, outreach and communication,
or promoting the national dialogue on workplace safety and health.
Once the alliance is signed, OSHA and its allies form an implementation
team to develop strategies and begin working toward these goals.
Lee Anne Jillings, director of the Office of Outreach Services and
Alliances, said some organizations that enter into alliances with
OSHA may be building on existing relationships with the agency through
other cooperative programs. "But what's particularly
promising," she said, "are the cases in which an organization
may be entering a cooperative relationship with OSHA for the first
Alliances represent an important step in the agency's efforts
to make inroads with an ever-growing number and variety of workplaces
and industries. They also demonstrate to OSHA's allies that
safety and health add value.
Alliances themselves add value to workplaces, as OSHA and its allies
collaborate to make resources available through print and electronic
media-particularly through sharing information via the Internet,
in links to one another's websites, and in appearances at
conferences and meetings. These initiatives enable OSHA and its
allies to share information and experience and to break down barriers
to communication between the agency and the regulated community.
Since the Hispanic Contractors of America, Inc., joined hands with
OSHA in the agency's first alliance last March, 35 companies,
organizations, and associations have followed suit in 18 more alliances.
Many more alliances are in the works.
"Alliances are helping us break down barriers, enabling OSHA
to establish new relationships, and opening new doors in the agency's
effort to promote workplace safety and health," said White.
"And the best thing about these new alliances is that they're
already making a difference."
Hispanic Contractors of America, Inc.
Last spring, for example, the leadership of the Hispanic Contractors
of America, Inc. (HCA), noticed increasing media coverage of higher
fatality rates among Hispanic construction workers in the already
high-fatality construction industry. "We met Assistant Secretary
Henshaw, and he told us about the U.S. Department of Labor's
effort to reach Hispanic workers in construction," said HCA
Executive Director Jerry Adriano. "We told him that we want
to be part of the solution!" The result was OSHA's first
So far, the alliance has marketed the onsite Consultation Service to HCA
members to raise awareness of available assistance. It is identifying
bilingual individuals to take the OSHA 30-hour train-the-trainer
construction course so that they will be certified to teach the
safety classes to member employers and their workers. OSHA and HCA
participated in several conferences to raise awareness of Hispanic
fatalities in the construction industry and the alliance's
role in trying to prevent them. These include the Texas Association
of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce Annual Convention, the
South Texas Construction Conference, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber
of Commerce Convention.
Jerry Adriano, left, executive director of the Hispanic Contractors
of America, Inc., joins with OSHA Administrator John L.
Henshaw to sign OSHA's first alliance agreement. With
them, at right, is Paul Rodriguez from the U.S. Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, the HCA invited Nilgun Tolek, the alliance's
coordinator, to its annual meeting to discuss OSHA programs, the
latest Bureau of Labor Statistics findings on workplace injuries
and fatalities, progress of the alliance, and plans to address members'
needs through training and outreach materials. Tolek also received
valuable input on ways OSHA can help startup and growing contractors
understand and comply with OSHA regulations.
"The alliance between HCA and OSHA is a very important strategy
to help reduce an alarming rate of Hispanic workforce accidents
and fatalities," said Adriano. "Through this alliance,
we are working to reduce those numbers significantly throughout
the United States so our workforce can put in a hard day's
work and go home each day to share the fruits of their labor with
their families and friends."
Adriano said the benefits of the alliance transcend individual workers
and worksites. "With a strong safety-oriented workforce,"
he said, "we can continue to contribute to the economy of
the most wonderful country in the world."
Risk and Insurance Management Society
Another OSHA alliance, with the Risk and Insurance Management Society
(RIMS), focuses on the exchange of technical information and best
practices that demonstrate the benefits and business value of safety
and health management systems. The alliance, signed last April,
also focuses on establishing and improving communication between
OSHA and RIMS' member organizations.
So far, the alliance has already demonstrated some early successes.
Key RIMS members conducted a comprehensive review of OSHA's
"Safety Pays" eTool and are helping the agency update
the program to incorporate real-life examples from the society's
members. RIMS also will help incorporate a risk management perspective
to many of OSHA's products, reinforcing the OSHA message,
"Safety and health add value to your business."
Two RIMS executives addressed the OSHA compliance assistance conference
to educate OSHA's compliance assistance specialists about
the risk management perspective on workplace safety and health.
Another panel of OSHA representatives is slated to discuss the agency's
four-pronged approach to ergonomics at the RIMS annual conference
Michael D. Phillipus, RIMS vice present for communications and external
affairs, said the alliance provides "a great opportunity for
expanded dialogue between regulators and business.
"We have a great opportunity to learn from each other in the
area of safety and health," he said, "and we look forward
to an increased exchange of information, ideas, and technology."
Protecting workers in the printing and graphic arts industries is the
goal of an alliance between OSHA, the Printing Industries
of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, Screenprinting
and Graphic Imaging Association International, Flexographic
Technical Association, and Envelope Manufacturers Association.
Another of OSHA's alliances, signed last summer, is committed to preventing
ergonomic injuries and illnesses in the printing and graphics arts
industries. OSHA joined forces with the Printing Industries of America/
Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, Screen printing and Graphic Imaging
Association International, Flexographic Technical Association, and
Envelope Manufacturers Association to share best practices and technical
knowledge among the allies.
"This alliance is the first of many we expect to sign with
industries that are moving forward to address ergonomics as part
of their effort to strengthen safety and health in their workplaces,"
Already, the members are working together to develop ergonomics
guidelines for the industry. In addition to raising 75 percent of
the funds for the research behind the guidelines, the group put
together the project team and the advisory committee. They recently
completed the research and drafted the guidelines. By the close
of this fiscal year, pocket cards, fact sheets, and training will
be ready for delivery industry-wide. The group also plans to produce
a workbook in both English and Spanish.
These success stories are just the beginning. Many more are expected
to emerge as OSHA enters into more alliances with an ever-expanding
variety of industries.
With the addition of alliances to its well-equipped toolbag, OSHA
continues to break down barriers and make it easier for trade associations,
companies, professional societies, and labor unions to cooperate
Most importantly, alliances are already making a genuine difference
in workers' safety and health. "This is what OSHA is
all about: the continuing reduction of injuries, illnesses, and
deaths in America's workplaces," Henshaw told the Society
of the Plastics Industry, Inc. "And I hope you're as
proud as I am that you are joining with us to make that a reality."
For more information about alliances, visit the OSHA website at
Click on Alliances under Cooperative Programs. JSHQ
Tolek is a program analyst in OSHA's Directorate of Cooperative
and State Programs, Washington, D.C.
- Airlines Alliance-Air
Canada, Airtran Airways, Alaska Airlines, America West airlines,
American Airlines, American Trans Air, Continental Airlines, Delta
Airlines, Jetblue Airlines, Midwest Express Airlines, Southwest
Airlines, U.S. Airways, United Airlines, National Safety Council,
International Air Transportation
- American Apparel and Footwear Association
- American Biological Safety Association
- American Industrial Hygiene Association
- American Meat Institute
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- American Textile Manufacturers Institute
- Construction Management Association of America, Inc.
- Dow Chemical Company
- Hispanic Contractors of America, Inc.
- Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc.
- National Arborist Association
- National Association of Shooting Ranges and the Sporting Arms and
Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute
- Printing Alliance-Envelope Manufacturers Association; Flexographic
Technical Association; Printing Industries of America, Inc./GFTA;
Screenprinting and Graphic Imaging Association
- Risk and Insurance Management Society
- Sealant, Waterproofing, and Restoration Institute