Speeches - (Archived) Table of Contents|
| Information Date:||02/27/2007|
| Presented To:||American Bakers Association|
| Speaker:||Edwin G. Foulke Jr.|
Edwin G. Foulke Jr.
American Bakers Association
3 p.m. Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Thank-you for your invitation to speak with you today about OSHA's activities and how our resources can help you.
On February 5, Secretary Elaine Chao released the President's 2008 budget for the Department of Labor. The proposal calls for a $17.9 million increase in OSHA's budget over the FY 2007 level, for a total of $490.3 million for the next fiscal year.
I am pleased to tell you that the 2008 budget adds more than $4.6 million to expand participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs. The additional funds will provide us with the resources we need to respond to the growing demand for VPP participation in the private sector, and to meet the expectations of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies.
VOLUNTARY PROTECTION PROGRAMS
VPP genuinely excites me because these programs focus on prevention, which is a concept near and dear to my heart.
When companies work through VPP and other cooperative programs offered by OSHA, business and government work together to educate everyone in an industry about how to bring down their injury and illness rates, which will lead to a reduction in everyone's insurance premiums.
Those who choose VPP can look forward to the best savings and success of all. This is not only my opinion. People all over our nation are talking about what VPP does for them:
- In June 2006, at the Region I conference for the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants Association, the governor of Vermont, James Douglas, said programs like VPP are helping to keep jobs in his state.
- In Texas City, Texas, officials have recognized the value of VPP. Last year, the city commissioners announced a 20 percent tax abatement to every industrial entity that achieves and maintains VPP. Texas City's mayor, Matthew Doyle, said this tax benefit is "a small price to pay for a safer community." Needless to say, we at OSHA agree.
Worksites that operate under VPP and implement a comprehensive safety and health management system find their injury rates are generally half their industry average.
- At Kraft Food's VPP site in Medford, Wisconsin, with 481 employees, the company had a TCIR from 2003 to 2005 that was 52 percent below its industry average and a DART that was 51 percent below its industry average.
- At Frito-Lay's VPP site in San Antonio, Texas, with 300 employees, the company had a TCIR from 2001 to 2003 that was 34 percent below its BLS industry average, and a DART that was 76 percent below its industry average.
However, there is something else that you cannot put a price on: When you achieve VPP status, you become a model of excellence, spurring others to do better and to ensure that something wonderful happens. When you make workplace safety and health a priority, at the end of the day everyone gets to go home to their families and friends, safe and sound.
OSHA has nearly 1,700 sites in VPP. Among these, about 60 worksites are food and food-product companies. I really want to see more American Bakers Association sites join VPP. Joining VPP is to your benefit. It is the best way I know to prevent tragedies from happening to employees while keeping businesses running efficiently and productively.
POWER OF PREVENTION
Most of all, I want to ask you to bring back to your business owners my message about the "power of prevention."
Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities cost our nation more than $170 billion every year in terms of insurance rates, medical bills, lower productivity and other expenses. At a time when companies in the United States are making difficult decisions about profits, losses, and keeping jobs here in America, choosing to institute or improve safety and health programs in the workplace is not only an employer's legal responsibility; it also makes good business sense.
Above all, the greatest cost of failing to prevent a workplace tragedy is immeasurable; it is the toll that an employee's illness, injury or fatality leaves with co-workers, friends and neighbors, and the devastating impact on an employee's family.
I need you to carry this message of "prevention" back to your businesses today. Businesses need to do everything they can to protect their employees, and OSHA is here to help.
OSHA is also continuing to develop and make available many outreach programs to address workplace safety and health issues in the bakery industry. Because Hazard Communication is #2 on the list of most-frequently cited OSHA violations in your industry, and because English is not the first language of many employees in your industry, let me remind you...
OSHA has made immigrant workplace safety a priority in the Agency, and in recent years we have put a major effort into identifying ways to improve the safety and health of immigrant workers and other hard-to-reach employees.
OSHA's website provides instant access to OSHA's Spanish-language information and Hispanic compliance assistance outreach tools, programs and training resources - including Hispanic-related web pages, electronic assistance tools, cooperative programs, training, and pages devoted to publications, fact sheets, videos, and much more.
Please: Go back and remind your employers that they are welcome to access these resources - which are all free.
Please remind them that Hispanic employers and Spanish-speaking workers can call OSHA toll-free to access the Spanish-language option for compliance assistance information and other help 24 hours a day.
Please also take back to your employers a reminder that OSHA offers training and education programs to help Hispanic employers and employees improve their knowledge of safe and healthful work practices to comply with OSHA standards. For example, our education centers, located throughout the United States, offer numerous Spanish language training courses, and OSHA's Resource Center Loan Program offers over 35 video titles in Spanish on various subjects, including electrical safety and PPE. You may view the complete catalog of Spanish-language training tools at OSHA's website.
Finally, under OSHA's letter of agreement with the Mexican government, and working through our local area office staff, OSHA is continuing to form new local area Alliances with Mexican consulates in more and more cities around the nation. At community safety and health fairs that we co-sponsor with other civic organizations in various cities, we are offering training, education and information in Spanish and other languages.
OSHA AGENDA: PANDEMIC FLU
On Feb. 6, OSHA issued its "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic." The Department of Labor collaborated with HHS on this guidance in support of the President's national strategy to prepare the nation for a possible flu pandemic.
OSHA has been addressing the hazards posed by avian flu and pandemic flu for nearly three years. The guidance we released on Feb. 6 and which is on OSHA's website, will help employers and employees understand what they should do to prepare their workplaces for a pandemic.
The guidance describes the differences between seasonal, avian, and pandemic influenza. It shares information on the nature of a potential pandemic, how the virus is likely to spread, and how exposure is likely to occur.
It is important to emphasize that there is currently no influenza pandemic. However, pandemics have occurred throughout history and many scientists believe it is only a matter of time before another one occurs.
We recognize that a severe pandemic in our country could have a devastating effect on our nation's workforce. In conjunction with the "Community Strategy" guidance that was recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, OSHA's guidance will help limit the spread of a pandemic, prevent disease and death, lessen the impact on our economy, and keep our society functioning.
I want to encourage every employer and employee to read OSHA's Pandemic Flu guidance on our website and follow the links to other government documents for all the latest information on pandemic preparedness.Employers and employees can begin using this planning guidance now to help identify risk levels and appropriate response measures. It is critical that we - as a nation, as employers and as individuals - do everything we can to prepare now in order to minimize the impact later.
OSHA published a final rule in the Feb. 14 Federal Register for an updated electrical installation standard. These are the first changes to the electrical installation requirements in 25 years, so it is important to OSHA that the standard reflects the most current practices and technologies in the industry.
The revised standard strengthens employee protections and adds consistency between OSHA's requirements and many state and local building codes which have adopted updated National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and National Electrical Code provisions.
The changes to OSHA's general industry electrical installation standard focus on safety in the design and installation of electric equipment in the workplace. The updated standard includes a new alternative method for classifying and installing equipment in Class I hazardous locations; new requirements for ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and new provisions on wiring for carnivals and similar installations. Details can be viewed on OSHA's website, www.osha.gov, or at the website for the Federal Register.
About 3 million employees who operate or service equipment face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Lockout/Tagout is one of the most frequently cited workplace safety and health violations cited by OSHA inspectors for the bakery industry.
Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard (29 CFR 1910.147) prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Employees injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.
OSHA offers an excellent Safety and Health Topics webpage on Lockout/Tagout, with a link to an interactive training program that employees, employers, and workplace safety specialists all can use to train themselves on the basics of LOTO.
In addition, OSHA recently issued a Letter of Interpretation to clarify the application of the Lockout/Tagout Standard to die-setting activities and other machine setup operations. On OSHA's website you can view the letter, the Safety and Health Topics page, and the interactive training program for lockout/tagout.
MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY
Every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs, and every 5 seconds a crash occurs. Many of these incidents occur during the workday or during the commute to and from work.
Employers bear the cost for injuries that occur both on and off the job. Whether you manage a fleet of vehicles, oversee a mobile sales force or simply employ commuters, by implementing a driver safety program in the workplace you can greatly reduce the risks faced by your employees and their families while protecting your company's bottom line.
You need a driver safety program:
- To save lives and to reduce the risk of life-altering injuries within your workforce.
- To protect your business' human and financial resources.
- To guard against potential company and personal liabilities associated with crashes involving employees driving on company business.
WE HAVE WORK TO DO
Finally, if you have not taken advantage of OSHA's On-site Consultation Program, I hope you will pick up the phone and call you state's On-site Consultation Program office to ask about this free service. This service helps employers identify hazards at their worksites and ways to correct them; it helps them improve their occupational safety and health management systems; and through this program employers can even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. Through our On-site Consultation Program, OSHA will not propose penalties or issue citations as long as participating employers agree to correct any hazards and violations identified during the consultation.
In this way and in so many other ways, "OSHA adds value to business, work and life."
Thank-you for doing everything you can to keep your employees safe and healthy. When I say that "one illness, injury or fatality on the job is one too many," I know you are with me.
I want to challenge you to take the next step and go out to your local chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs and other business organizations. Here is where you will find people, especially owners of small businesses, who many not have heard OSHA's message. Please talk to them about how practicing prevention in your own workplaces has made a difference. Make them understand how important this is. Until we get through to every business owner, our work is not done.
|Speeches - (Archived) Table of Contents|