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• Information Date: 11/13/1998
• Presented To: OSHA Partnership Conference, Washington, D.C.
• Speaker: Herman, Alexis M.
• Status: Archived

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

Partner With OSHA: New Ways of Working
Alexis M. Herman, Secretary of Labor
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
November 13, 1998



Thank you Charles for your introduction, but more than that, thank you for your work leading OSHA into the 21st century -- an OSHA focused on strategic management, improved rulemaking, expanded outreach and creative partnerships.

Let me also thank the Director of OSHA's Federal State Operations Office Paula White, and her entire team -- including Tyna Coles and Kathy Oliver -- for all of their hard work in organizing this conference. And I want to thank our partners who have traveled from across the country to share the success stories you've just seen highlighted in the video.

I want to acknowledge Bob Stone and Jean Logan from the National Partnership for Reinventing Government. We also appreciate our distinguished leadership panel -- Debbie Berkowitz, representing the United Food and Commercial Workers; Bob Georgine, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO; Ted Hillman, Chairman of the Associated General Contractors Safety and Health Committee; Roger Hirl, CEO of Occidental Chemical; and Patricia McGinnis, President and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government.

And, finally, let me thank all of you. We are delighted that you could join us to learn more about the work we are doing and the partnerships we are building to keep workers safe and healthy on the job.

We have representatives from labor and industry, Congressional staff, the media -- a cross-section of people interested in collaborative, common sense approaches to improve the work environment for working families.

As Labor Secretary, I believe very strongly in the value of partnerships. From our new landmark legislation to reform job training programs, to our ongoing retirement savings campaign, to our efforts to stamp out abusive child labor, we are developing practical solutions by reaching out and building partnerships among labor, management and government at all levels.

And when it comes to the issues that bring us here today -- and the mission of OSHA -- it is clear that, together, we can strengthen our common values when we work toward a common purpose-in this case preventing injury, illness and death in the workplace.

So my message this morning is very simple. It works to work with OSHA.

Partner with us. And it will make a difference in the lives of working Americans.

Building partnerships is essential, I believe, for three fundamental reasons.

First, partnerships work. We know that instinctively. And we know that historically.

After all, think about some our nation's famous partnerships -- Lewis and Clark...Rogers and Hammerstein...Sears and Roebuck. These partnerships have left a lasting legacy. The partnerships we celebrate today are doing the same thing.

They carry names like SESAC, HomeSafe, Cowtown and VPP. Few people may know what those acronyms and titles stand for. But, in truth, they all stand for the same thing: success.

There's often talk in this city about a policy-wonk mentality. That's a mindset that doesn't understand the reality beyond the beltway. Today we've brought reality to D.C. Six real stories, six real successes, six real ways to improve workplace safety and health.

The programs we are showcasing at this conference were developed at the grassroots level-by workers, employers and local OSHA staff. That's bottom-up instead of top-down.

The second reason this conference is important is because partnerships deliver tangible results. And when we speak of results in safety and health, less really is more. Fewer injuries and lower costs equal more benefits for everyone-workers, employers and the government. That's a formula tailor-made for partnership.

And finally, the third reason I believe this conference is vital is because partnerships have a multiplier effect. A joint venture promises synergy-that indefinable something extra that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. In the 27 years of OSHA's existence, we have cut workplace fatalities by half. Through partnerships, that success can multiply.

And the fact is, we can't rely on inspections alone to protect workers. The 2,000 federal and state OSHA inspectors must stretch to cover more than 100 million working Americans. Just to visit each of the 6 million workplaces we cover would take us more than 66 years.

But what we may lack in resources we can make up for in resourcefulness. We're not looking for a one-shot fix -- we need sustained results. That demands creativity and leveraging. In short, it calls for partnership.

This is all about a new way of doing business at the Labor Department. We've spent six years changing the way we do business-focusing on results, thinking "outside the box," emphasizing cooperation. We've been telling you there's a different OSHA in town.

Today we want to prove it. This conference gives you a chance to observe firsthand the new ways we're working together to get results.

You will see a graphic demonstration of the effectiveness of partnership among employers, employees and government.

You will hear concrete evidence that a comprehensive, cooperative approach to safety and health prevents injuries and illnesses in the workplace. And I am convinced you will leave encouraged and inspired.

But I want to leave you with one more thing -- a challenge. What you hear today is not the last word on partnerships. That word, that opportunity, belongs to you.

View what you see from the perspective of your industry, your association, your constituents. Consider how these models might fit your circumstances. Or start fresh with your own creative ideas. Then come back to us with a plan for partnership that will make a difference in your workplace.

And I'll make you this deal. Demonstrate your commitment to workplace safety and health, and we'll demonstrate our commitment to working with you to get results.

I will just conclude by applauding the success represented here today. I appreciate the hard work that's made it possible. And I'm excited about working with all of you in future partnerships.

Thank you for being here and God bless you.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

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


Speeches - Table of Contents Speeches - (Archived) Table of Contents