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Construction Safety and Health
Outreach Program
U.S. Department of Labor
OSHA Office of Training and Education
May 1996

In May 1995, President Clinton announced a new OSHA initiative entitled, "The New OSHA, Reinventing Occupational Safety and Health." This initiative included three sets of regulatory reform actions that would enhance safety, trim paperwork, and transform OSHA. A summary of this initiative follows.

Choose Your OSHA

OSHA has changed its fundamental operating paradigm from one of command and control to one which provides employers a real choice between a partnership and the traditional enforcement relationship. For those employers who are committed to safety and health and strive to protect their workers, OSHA will be a partner providing assistance. However, for those employers that knowing put their workers at risk, OSHA will maintain a vigorous enforcement program.

Common Sense Regulation

OSHA has changed its approach to regulations by identifying clear and sensible priorities focusing on key building blocks, eliminating or fixing out of date and confusing standards and emphasizing interaction with business and labor in the development of rules.

Results, Not Red Tape

OSHA has changed the way it works on a day to day basis by focusing on the most dangerous workplaces and by insisting on results instead of red tape. The American people will be able to see a clear link between what OSHA does and the actual reduction in injuries and illnesses.

There are six principles for protecting America's workforce under the New OSHA. These principles are:

  • OSHA's purpose is to save lives, prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, and protect the health of all America's workers. This includes efforts to protect group of workers who are small and unorganized but who are particularly vulnerable or who face special hazards.

  • Whenever possible, OSHA will seek and expect implementation of hazard control strategies based upon primary prevention, i.e., strategies which focus on fixing the underlying causes of problems or reducing hazardous exposures at their source.

  • OSHA will initiate public-private partnerships to identify and encourage the spread of industry best practices to solve national problems.

  • Employer commitment and meaningful employee participation and involvement in safety and health is a key ingredient in effective programs.

  • All safety and health services, resources, rules, and information must be readily accessible and understandable to employees, employers, and OSHA's staff.

  • OSHA intends to be a performance-oriented, data-driven organization that places the highest premium on real results rather than activities and processes. OSHA's programs must be judged according to their success at eliminating hazards and reducing injuries and illness.

To implement the initiative, a team consisting of front-line management and union representatives from OSHA's field and national offices was selected. Through extensive fact-based research, site visits to other agencies and facilities, and interviews with OSHA staff and stakeholders, the team identified the most effective mechanisms for improving safety and health in the workplace. These tools were pulled together into a comprehensive "model" that describes how an OSHA field office could operate.

There are four basic component of the model office, covering strategy, processes, organization, and measurement. The new strategy focuses OSHA field activities toward workplaces where the greatest potential exists to maximize injuries and illnesses. The revamped organizational structure uses teams, which represent the most effective way of utilizing limited resources. Processes such as streamlining the complaint process and onsite inspections were examined to improve efficiency and allow staff to work on other initiatives.

The new OSHA model office is currently being tested in pilot offices. After changes or adjustments are made to improve the model, it will be implemented in all OSHA enforcement offices.

OSHA's Public Service Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state governments work in partnership with more than 100 million working men and women and their 6.5 million employers to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect the health of America's workers. To use its limited resources effectively, OSHA seeks to stimulate management commitment and employee participation in comprehensive workplace safety and health programs. OSHA is dedicated to improving the quality of its efforts and becoming an agency driven by commitment to public service.

In September 1994, OSHA published its first Service Improvement Plan which was issued in response to a Presidential Order of the previous year. The Presidential Order called upon the federal government to set standards for high-quality customer service. The following is a summary of OSHA's most recent public service standards.

Employers Can Expect OSHA To...

  • Help them identify and control workplace hazards by offering a choice between partnership and traditional enforcement.

  • Focus agency inspections on the most significant hazards in the most dangerous workplaces.

  • Be courteous and professional during inspections.

Employees Can Expect OSHA To...

  • Promote employee participation in the development and implementation of worksite safety and health programs and in OSHA interventions such as workplace inspections and consultation visits.

  • Respond promptly to employee's request for correction of serious hazards at their workplaces.

  • Advise employees of their safety and health rights and responsibilities, and complete investigations within 90 days for those employees who believe they have been discriminated for exercising their rights to requests or participation in inspections.

The General Public Can Expect OSHA To:

  • Make regulations and interpretations user-friendly.

  • Work in partnership with business and labor to develop new standards that make real sense to real people.

  • Expand training opportunities for private sector employees.

  • Provide better access to OSHA information through publications and online materials.