Strategic Partnerships Overview

The OSHA Strategic Partnership Program Directive (OSPP), originally adopted on November 13, 1998 and revised effective November 6, 2013, is an expansion and formalization of OSHA's substantial experience with voluntary programs.

  • In a Partnership, OSHA enters into an extended, voluntary, cooperative relationship with groups of employers, employees, and employee representatives (sometimes including other stakeholders, and sometimes involving only one employer) in order to encourage, assist, and recognize their efforts to eliminate serious hazards and achieve a high level of worker safety and health.
  • Partnering with OSHA is appropriate for the many employers who want to do the right thing but need help in strengthening worker safety and health at their worksites. Within the OSPP, management, labor, and OSHA are proving that old adversaries can become new allies committed to cooperative solutions to the problems of worker safety and health.
  • OSHA and its partners can identify a common goal, develop plans for achieving that goal, and cooperate in implementation.
  • OSHA's interest in cooperative Partnerships in no way reduces its ongoing commitment to enforcing the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. While employers in Partnership remain subject to OSHA enforcement, the OSPP provides them an opportunity to work cooperatively with OSHA and workers to identify the most serious workplace hazards, develop workplace-appropriate safety and health management systems, share resources, and find effective ways to reduce worker injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
  • Most of the worksites that have chosen to partner with OSHA are small businesses.

Elements of Partnerships

Partnerships must include each participating employer's commitment to implement in a timely manner an effective workplace safety and health management system or to address a specific hazard. The hallmarks of an effective management system are management leadership and employee involvement, hazard analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training, evaluation, and compliance with applicable OSH Act requirements. Partnerships also must contain all the Core Elements discussed in the policy (Required Core Elements of the OSP Agreement, CSP 03-02-003 [XII.B.] (PDF)):

Core Elements
  • Identification of Partners
  • Purpose/Scope
  • Goals/Strategies
  • Safety and Health Management System
  • Worker Involvement
  • Performance Measures
  • Annual Evaluation
  • OSHA Verifications
  • Incentives
  • OSP Management and Operation
  • Worker and Employer Rights
  • OSP Term
  • Signatures

Partnership Review And Approval

  • Area Office Partnerships are reviewed and approved by the Regional Administrator with consultation from the Regional Solicitor.
  • Regional Office Partnerships are reviewed by the appropriate National Office Directorates and by the Director of Cooperative and State Programs. Approval comes from the Deputy Assistant Secretary with consultation from the National Office Solicitor.
  • Partnerships developed at the National Office are reviewed by the Director of Cooperative and State Programs and other affected Offices and Directorates. Approval by the Assistant Secretary with consultation from the National Office Solicitor.