Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and no longer represents OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA Success Stories

Since OSHA opened its doors in 1971, workplace fatalities have been cut in half. Occupational injury and illness rates have dropped 40 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has nearly doubled from 56 million workers at 3.5 million worksites to 105 million workers at nearly 6.9 million sites. As impressive as these statistics may be, they do not fully convey the magnitude of OSHA's ssuccess during the past 30 years. Each percentage point in reduced fatalities and injuries and illnesses means fewer men and women injured or disabled on the job and fewer families left to grieve over the loss of a loved one. It means more workers returned home whole and healthy every day. There can be no better measure of success. At the same time, companies large and small and in a variety of industries have come to recognize that safety and health pay. A reduction in lost workdays and workers' compensation costs translates into big savings for employers. Companies also benefit from improved employee morale and productivity -- an important but often unanticipated reward that frequently comes from providing employees a safe and healthful workplace. Working together, OSHA, employers, and employees are helping make big improvements in workplace safety and health. The following are just a few of the many success stories.

OSHA's sCooperative Programs

OSHA provides consultation assistance at no cost to employers who request help in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. Comprehensive assistance includes an appraisal of all mechanical physical work practices and environmental hazards of the workplace and all aspects of the employer's present job safety and health program.

In hundreds of cases around the country, the numbers show the results. For example, an Alabama company requested a consultation in 1993. At that time, its workers compensation premiums were $162,000. The company had no safety and health management program and one of every five employees had experienced an injury that required at least a day away from work. After working 5 years with the Consultation Program, eliminating hazards and implementing a safety and health management program, the company's workers compensation premium was reduced to $28,000 and injuries dropped to one in 67 employees.

Voluntary Protection Programs
OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) recognize outstanding achievements by companies that successfully integrate a comprehensive safety and health program into their total management system. Overall, participants in VPP have substantially lower worker injury rates and incur lower workers' compensation costs than those paid by similar firms that do not participate in the programs.

In fact, in 2000, of the 554 companies in the program, 87 sites had no injury and illness cases at all. Overall, the sites' total case injury and illness incidence rates were 59 percent below the expected average for similar industries. In addition, 141 of the 554 VPP sites had no days away from work or restricted activity injuries. Overall, the sites were 62 percent below the expected average for days away from work or restricted activity injuries in similar industries.

Lucent Technologies

With more than 11,000 employees, Lucent Technologies in Lisle, IL, is the nation's second-largest VPP site, and a perfect example of the positive impact VPP participation can have on employee safety and health. During 2000, the site had a lost-workday case rate of 0.2-97 percent below the national average of 6.4 for this industry. As a result, OSHA estimates that 709 employees at the site did not suffer a lost-workday injury, thanks to an effective safety and health program that is the foundation of VPP participation.

Citizens Memorial Healthcare

Citizens Memorial Healthcare (CMH) of Bolivar, MO, which operates several nursing home facilities, has committed to a goal of full VPP participation. Three of its sites have achieved OSHA approval, and the agency is reviewing a fourth application. Employee participation in safety and health programs is extensive at these nursing homes. In addition to providing greater protection for its own employees, the CMH management developed a safety and health mentoring program for other long-term care facilities. These efforts are enabling OSHA to address one of its strategic focuses: injuries and illnesses in hospitals and nursing homes.

Mundy Companies, Inc.

The Mundy Companies are industrial plant maintenance, capital project, turnaround and services contractors with 5,000 employees in seven states. OSHA approved the company's first site for VPP Star status in 1996. Mundy now has five Star sites, four in the federal program and one in the North Carolina state plan. For 2000, the five Star sites had a combined recordable injury and illness rate of 0.57-65 percent lower than the company average. The five Star sites worked 906,000 manhours during the first 6 months of 2001 without a recordable injury or illness.

United Space Alliance

During the 4 years since its first site entered the VPP program in 1997, United Space Alliance has experienced 37 percent fewer lost-time injuries and 41 percent fewer recordable injuries. "Our employees are charged up about the VPP and committed to maintaining a safe and healthful work environment," says Dick Beagley, the company's Vice President for Safety, Quality, and Mission Assurance. "Our collective goal is to be recognized as "World Class" in the safety field." Four of the company's VPP sites in Houston, for example, have compiled impressive periods of time without a single list-time injury. As of April 2001, the Flight Crew Equipment/Extra Vehicular Activity Building had logged 1,410 days; the Logistics Support Facility, 1,008 days; the 600 Gemini facility, 363 days; and the Corporate Headquarters, 355 days.

OSHA has initiated partnerships with employers, employees, and employee representatives in a wide range of industries to encourage, assist, and recognize efforts to eliminate workplace hazards. Participants work together to identify a common goal, develop plans to achieve it, and implement those plans in a cooperative way. Partnerships can transform relationships between OSHA and an employer or entire industry. Former adversaries recognize that working together to solve workplace safety and health problems is to everyone's advantage.

New Jersey Pilot Silica Partnership

Crystalline silica is a natural compound in the earth's crust and is a basic component of sand and granite. Every year, 2 million U.S. workers are exposed to crystalline silica, which can cause silicosis, a disabling disease that kills about 300 people every year. The substance also has been associated with diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer.

The New Jersey Pilot Silica Partnership is working to reduce those rates by monitoring common tasks most likely to likely to lead to worker exposures. Partners collect and distribute new information about crystalline silica and require contractors for all applicable New Jersey Department of Transportation contracts to follow strict silica hazard control measures.

Partners include OSHA, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the New Jersey Department of Labor, the Utilities and Transportation Contractors Association (UTCA), the Laborers International Health and Safety Fund, Laborers Locals 172 and 472, NIOSH and several major highway construction contractors. Their cooperation epitomizes the benefits of OSHA, labor, management, and other stakeholders working together to improve workplace safety.

Construction Partnerships

The most common causes of construction-related injuries and fatalities are electrical incidents, falls, trenching and excavation accidents, and being struck by vehicles or equipment. Several new OSHA partnerships are helping to reduce or eliminate these hazards and increase safety at participating construction worksites. These partnerships are limited to contractors with better-than-average safety records and require participants to adopt comprehensive written safety programs that include management commitment, employee involvement, supervisory personnel training, and the designation of trained safety personnel at worksites.

OSHA participates in two national partnerships with the Associated Buildings and Contractors (ABC) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC). The ABC partnership, launched in February 2000, has grown to include 25 of the ABC's 83 chapters nationwide. In addition, six states with OSHA-approved safety and health programs have entered into construction partnerships with ABC chapters. The AGC partnership began in January 2001. So far, several chapters have signed local partnerships with OSHA, and one state with an OSHA-approved safety and health plan, New Mexico, signed a partnership agreement with the AGC.

OSHA also participates in a variety of regional and local partnership. The agency entered into the new PRIDE of St. Louis, MO, partnership in late 1999 to promote better safety and health programs at worksites throughout the area.

Louisiana Logging Partnership

Rugged terrain, unpredictable weather conditions, heavy equipment, razor-sharp tools, and falling trees weighing up several tons each make logging one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. During 1997 alone, logging accounted for 128 deaths per 100,000 workers nationwide. This means that loggers are 27 times more likely to die on the job than are workers in all other occupations combined.

A partnership between OSHA, the Louisiana Forestry Association, the Louisiana Logging Council, and Louisiana logging contractors is helping to identify trends and reduce injuries and illnesses in the state's logging industry. Partnership members produced and distributed a logging safety manual and conduct training programs. In addition, they support logging safety programs and promote increased employer action and responsibility in safety and health management. The partnership covers 150 employers and 1,500 employees.

Pinon Management / RTW Colorado, Inc. Partnership

Nursing homes and personal care facilities are a growing industry, employing some 1.6 million workers at 21,000 worksites. Among U.S. industries, they also have the third highest rate of nonfatal injury or illness cases: 16.8 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers.

A partnership between OSHA, Pinon Management, Inc., and RTW Colorado, Inc., is helping to improve workplace safety and health at seven Colorado nursing homes.

Although the partnership is intended to reduce all work-related injuries in nursing homes, its primary focus is on ergonomics hazards related to back injuries during resident transfers. The goal is to reduce lost-workday injury and illness rates for participating nursing homes by 10 percent per year, develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health program for nursing homes, and cut workers' compensation costs by reducing the number and severity of injuries and illnesses.

OSHA's sfocus in the partnership has been on outreach and training, not enforcement. During the first year of the partnership, OSHA coordinated and provided recordkeeping and ergonomics training. Colorado State University's Consultation Program also plays a significant role in the partnership, conducting training sessions and monitoring data.

The results of the partnership are dramatic. Worker compensation aggregate data indicate that the partnership is making process. Claims dropped from 115 in 1999 to 70 in 2000 and were down to 5 during the first quarter of 2001. In addition, the associated costs dropped from $232,000 in 1999 to $68,000 in 2000 to just $1,500 during the first quarter of 2001. If the trend continues, the company expects worker compensation claims to cost below $10,000 for the year. The benefits, however, go far beyond dollars. Employees are experiencing fewer injuries in the workplace.

ConAgra Partnership

Workers in the food processing industry face a wide range of hazards, ergonomic, chemical, and machine hazards among them. The OSHA-ConAgra Partnership, begun in 1997, is working to reduce injuries and illnesses for ConAgra's 30,000 workers and ultimately will benefit the company's 90,000 employees corporatewide.

ConAgra Refrigerated Foods Companies, Inc., a division of ConAgra, Inc., and the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union, AFL-CIO agreed to help ConAgra improve its safety and health programs at nine facilities. Their goal is to bring the facilities' programs up to the level of excellence needed to qualify OSHA's spremier recognition program, the Star Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).

To date, seven of the nine facilities have reduced total injury and illness incidence rates from 6 to 30 percent, with an average of 20 percent. As a result, workers' compensation costs have declined an average of more than 60 percent. Other improvements more cooperation and trust among the parties, heightened awareness of safety and health, and increased employee morale. So far, one facility has been approved for OSHA's sVPP, and two other ConAgra sites not directly involved in this partnership have achieved VPP status.

Other Initiatives

OSHA offers various services and programs to help employers and employees improve workplace health and safety and comply with regulatory requirements. These include education and training opportunities, free onsite consultations, support from compliance assistance specialists, the opportunity to participate in Voluntary Protection Programs, and information and outreach offered through electronic services.

Susan Harwood Training Grants Program
OSHA offers funds to nonprofit organizations to train workers to recognize, avoid, and prevent safety and health hazards in their workplaces. These grants address the most prevalent types of workplace injuries and illnesses, the most hazardous industries, and the most hazardous workplaces. They also reach out to thousands of employers and workers who might be difficult to serve through OSHA's sother more traditional training programs, including small business owners and entry-level and non-English-speaking workers.

In September 1998, for example, OSHA awarded a Susan Harwood Training Program grant to the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Project to target hazards in the food processing industry. The North Carolina Project provided safety and health outreach and training to both English- and Spanish-speaking workers in small and medium-sized pork, chicken, and turkey processing plants in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. The bilingual training, offered through adult education methods and community-based organizations, focused on ergonomic, chemical, and machine hazards. In addition to training programs, the grantee developed and distributed both English and Spanish versions of easy-to-understand safety and health fact sheets on food processing hazards. The grantee established relationships with food processing industries and trained workers, supervisors, and both union and non-union employers at participating processing plants. Because of the project's first-year success, OSHA renewed the grant for a second year.

During the grant, the North Carolina Project provided training to 1,341 front-line workers -- more than half of them Spanish-speaking. This exceeded the program goal by 141 students. Eighty-five percent of the respondents rated the training as "excellent" or "very good," indicating that the information was useful in performing their jobs.

Compliance Assistance Specialists
OSHA is placing increased emphasis on outreach, training, education, and information sharing to promote workplace safety. The agency's new compliance assistance specialists serve as its front-line support force for employers and employees looking for more effective ways to provide safer, more healthful work environments.

Compliance assistance specialists work at the grassroots level, providing advice and assistance to businesses, professional organizations, unions, and community groups. They zero in on local needs and issues, develop and conduct training to meet those needs, and provide outreach to help stakeholders improve their workplace safety programs. Compliance assistance specialists demonstrate the value of OSHA working in a cooperative relationship with employers and employees to improve workplace safety.

OSHA's se-Tools
OSHA has put technology to good use in helping employers and workers interpret complicated OSHA regulations. OSHA electronic tools, such as the Expert Advisors and Electronic Compliance Assistance Tools, help businesses identify workplace hazards, OSHA requirements, and preventive measures. These electronic tools are free and can be downloaded from OSHA's swebsite ( and run on local PCs. They combine the expertise of OSHA safety and health professionals -- including epidemiologists, risk assessors, and attorneys -- into a single source of help.

Expert Advisors currently cover topics such as fire safety, hazard awareness, asbestos, lead in construction and general industry, cadmium, respiratory protection, and cost of injury. E-Compliance Assistance Tools, or e-CATs, also help businesses identify workplace hazards and abatements and cover topics such as silica, logging, baggage handling, respiratory protection, and lockout/tagout.

Progress and Challenges Ahead

Today, fewer workers are injured or killed on the job, thanks to OSHA standards, outreach, training, education, and partnerships with employers. Yet, despite this progress, more than 6,000 workers still die each year on the job, more than 6 million are injured, and almost 500,000 experience occupational illnesses. The challenge that remains is to find effective ways to leverage OSHA's resources to help workers and their employers reduce the toll of suffering and death. As OSHA observes its 30th anniversary, the agency continues to explore innovative ways to meet the challenge of the next quarter century.

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and no longer represents OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.