Speeches - Table of Contents Speeches - (Archived) Table of Contents
• Information Date: 02/03/1999
• Presented To: Organization Resources Counselors Winter Safety and Health Meeting
• Speaker: Jeffress, Charles N.
• 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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

Charles N. Jeffress
Organization Resources Counselors
Winter Safety and Health Meeting
Washington, D.C.
February 3, 1999



  • I have always thought that OSHA's success depends greatly upon the partnership we build with the safety and health community. That community extends from the plant nurse to the safety consultant to the medical director to the human resource manager who sometimes serves as the safety expert by default.
  • But as safety and health professionals at major U.S. and multinational companies, you represent the leadership of the safety and health community. And we need you.
  • We want to accomplish the impossible. We want every worker to go home whole and healthy every day. To do that requires the full partnership of everyone in the safety and health community -- and most especially the leaders in that community. We know that you share our goal of preventing workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.
  • It's a goal that makes bottom line sense. The fact that safety pays is no secret to anyone in this room. It's also common sense.
  • But as Voltaire said, "Common sense is not so common." Only 30 percent of employers nationwide have established safety and health programs. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but the fact remains that we have a lot of mission work to do to spread this message.
  • I appreciate all the help you have given to OSHA and to others in your industries and in your communities. But I don't want to lose sight of the fact that we still have a long way to go. When nearly 50 American workers are injured every minute of the 40-hour workweek and almost 17 die each day, we must do even better.
  • As we move forward into the next century, we plan to achieve that goal by focusing on five integrated principles: strong enforcement, strategic management, improved rulemaking, creative partnership and expanded outreach and training. I want to touch briefly on each of these, but spend most of the time we have together discussing the plans I've mapped out to improve OSHA rulemaking.
  • As you know, enforcement underpins all of our efforts and lends credibility to our cooperative approaches. Our data-driven system allows us to focus our resources where they are needed most -- those workplaces with the highest injury and illness rates.
  • In 1998, we again collected injury and illness data from about 80,000 establishments. We are examining this data and will be developing a new targeting program similar to the Interim Targeting Program that we will put into effect later this year. We are also revising our silica national emphasis program and expanding the lead in construction program to general industry to increase worker protection against these hazards.
  • We've got to employ strategic management to get results. I know we've talked about this before. Our four-year strategic plan establishes specific numerical goals: first, a 20-percent reduction in injuries and illnesses in 100,000 workplaces; second, a 15-percent reduction in injuries and illnesses among five high hazard industries -- food processing, nursing homes, shipyards, logging and construction; and third, a 15-percent reduction in three specific injuries and illnesses -- silicosis, amputations and lead poisoning.
  • Next week, the OSHA senior staff are gathering for a special retreat to focus on teamwork and continuing to effectively implement our strategic plan. We'll be identifying links between the strategic plan and our day-to-day work. We're also beginning a monthly internal report that integrates our traditional enforcement indicators with strategic plan measures.
  • Another part of our strategy is creative partnerships. Some of you may have attended our partnership conference last November, which spotlighted some special partnerships as well as our Voluntary Protection Program. The foundation for all these partnerships, of course, is an effective safety and health program.
  • We are continuing to explore opportunities to work cooperatively with employers to reduce injuries and illnesses in the workplace. We're trying vertical partnerships, like the one we have with ConAgra -- establishing effective safety and health programs in every plant they own. We also have industry-specific partnerships such as SESAC for steel erectors in Colorado and the Roofing Industry Partnership for contractors in Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. And we have cross-cutting partnerships such as the Cowtown project, which covers 27 Fort Worth-area sites in three high hazard industry sectors -- meat processing, iron and steel foundries and motor vehicle and accessory manufacture.
  • We're open to any reasonable suggestions for partnerships that can lead to fewer injuries, illnesses and deaths in the workplace. So, if you've got an idea, I hope you'll share it with us. All our regions are being encouraged to pursue partnership arrangements.
  • We also want to expand OSHA's outreach and training. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 specifically directs OSHA to encourage employers and employees in their efforts to reduce hazards and to institute and perfect safety and health programs. This is a mandate we need to take seriously to assist employers and employees in their efforts to create a safe and healthful working environment.
  • I am delighted to report to you that President Clinton has requested an additional $12 million in the budget for 2000 announced on Monday to expand training, information and technical assistance to employers and employees. This includes outreach staff in every area office as well as an increase of $3.5 million for the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program and $700,000 for OSHA's expert advisor software. We are planning extensive outreach campaigns for major new rules such as recordkeeping, safety and health programs and ergonomics.
  • Let's take a look now at improved rulemaking. We need rules that protect workers. Rules that get updated more often than once every 30 years. Rules that direct employers and employees to ever-safer performance. Rules written simply enough for everyone to understand what to do.
  • I want to get rules out more quickly as well. OSHA faces many external constraints, so it is especially important for us to get interested parties to the table earlier to resolve policy questions. Negotiated rulemaking offers one possibility. Using international standards or state-OSHA standards as a basis for proposals offers another. The stakeholder process we are using for the safety and health programs and ergonomics rules is also proving helpful in developing standards that will have broader public support.
  • However, I think there is much that we can do within OSHA to improve our rulemaking process. I am setting up a new structure within the agency to help things flow more smoothly. I see this as a pilot project to run for six months. At that point, we'll re-evaluate. If this system works, we'll make it permanent.
  • An internal critique of our rulemaking process identified a number of problems. No one person was in charge. We didn't have clear direction. We lacked accountability. We missed deadlines. Employee morale was poor. We had too many levels of review. Our policies were inconsistent.
  • The solution is to reinvent the process, consolidating rulemaking operations under one experienced manager, accountable directly to me. That manager is Marthe Kent. She will be responsible for development of all safety and health standards -- except for construction standards. We've established a one-stop shop for construction, with enforcement, standards interpretation and standards development grouped together. We'll maintain that plan. But all other standards will come under Marthe. She will be assisted by Adam Finkel as health executive and two deputies -- a deputy for economics and a deputy for operations.
  • We're going to establish eight to ten cross-functional regulatory teams reporting to Marthe. Each team will each focus on two or three standards. For example, the team working on safety and health programs will also handle electric power transmission and welding, cutting and brazing.
  • Each team will include members from all the disciplines we draw on in drafting standards -- safety specialists or health scientists, economists, risk assessment experts and attorneys. Each team will call on compliance officers, occupational health nurses or doctors and others as necessary to complete their work. That will cut down on multiple reviews. Further, each team will be headed by a strong team leader who can develop the team into a cohesive working group and move the process forward expeditiously.
  • Team leaders will be held accountable for the quality of the standards their team produces as well as the timeliness. They will hold their team members accountable. I plan to announce the team leaders the end of this month and give them their assignments.
  • I believe this structure makes more sense and will result in a better, more timely product. We should know in six months.
  • Let me give you a brief progress report on the major standards we're developing this year. First -- and foremost -- safety and health programs. We've completed the SBREFA small business review process on this rule, and we are sending our draft to OMB this month. That puts us on target for publication of the proposal this summer.
  • You're all familiar with the five components in the proposal -- management leadership; employee participation; hazard assessment; hazard prevention and control; and information and training. These are the same elements you have in your programs. The proposal will include a grandfather clause for existing programs.
  • Those who oppose the rule say it's too vague, that compliance officers will have too much discretion and will be able to cite anyone for anything. These are the same folks who object to "one-size-fits-all" standards with specific provisions. You can't have it both ways. OSHA can either promulgate specification standards or program standards. I think the safety and health program rule is the right way to go.
  • It's also the right way to go for ergonomics. And I guess everyone here is aware of our preliminary efforts on that rule. I do want to stress that the draft that was published last week is already yesterday's news. It's not the one we will go forward with in the rulemaking process. You will see a number of changes in the version that we send forward to the SBREFA panel later this month. That draft -- the official one -- will be posted on our website for everyone to view.
  • What will not change are the basic elements of the rule. Again these are the same elements that you already have in your own ergonomics programs -- management leadership and employee participation, hazard awareness and employee training, medical management, job hazard analysis, hazard prevention and control, program evaluation and documentation. There will also be a grandfather clause for existing programs.
  • Once we complete the small business review, this rule will also go forward to OMB for review, and we expect to publish it in the Federal Register in September. Our goal is to take public comments, hold hearings in several cities and publish a final rule in 2000.
  • You've all heard the arguments that there's no science. This ridiculous claim continues to come forth despite an exhaustive NIOSH review of the literature and the National Academy of Science findings last September that there is substantial sound scientific evidence that the greater the exposure to biomechanical stresses on the job, the greater the likelihood that workers will be injured.
  • Then there are the claims that no one knows what works to prevent MSDs. Yet the NAS found "compelling evidence" that workplace interventions such as reducing heavy lifting, repetitive motions, excessive force, awkward postures and other stressors can reduce the risk of injury. Let's get real. There are real injuries occurring among real people at real workplaces every day. But more importantly, there are real solutions as well. It's time to do what's right.
  • I know you're all interested in recordkeeping also. That rule goes to OMB for review shortly, and we are on target to publish it in June. The changes take effect next January. You will find that the final rule is not as ambitious as the proposal -- nor as ambitious as the comments from many in ORC. We recognize the value of leading indicators as an addition to the log of injuries and illnesses. But there is not widespread agreement on what constitutes leading indicators, so we cannot impose this as a requirement. I think you will be pleased to see clear definitions of work-relatedness, a better explanation of what constitutes light duty and a much improved and simpler form.
  • We have quite a few other standards we hope to get out in 1999 as well -- assigned protection factors for respirators, clarification of the employer obligation to pay for PPE, modification of PSM to harmonize with EPA requirements and plain language standards for dipping and coating operations and exit routes.
  • The most difficult standard that demands our attention is PELs -- even more difficult than safety and health programs and ergonomics. ORC and other organizations have recommended that we attack our outdated exposure limits by setting up advisory committees on each chemical or group of chemicals to get consensus before moving forward with proposed changes. We are working on standards for some chemicals on the PEL list -- beryllium, glycol ethers, chromium, carbon disulfide, glutaraldehyde, manganese and trimellitic anhydride. But, as you know, that leaves hundreds of chemicals with outdated PELs.
  • I am committed to a process that includes consultations, a consensus-building process. But I am concerned that hundreds of chemicals need new limits. With four or five committees per year -- even if each committee finished its work in one year -- it would take us 100 years to deal just with the chemicals that we already have limits for. We've got to find a better way.
  • I am interested in working with you. Let's keep talking. For OSHA to keep pace with the chemicals used in the workplace, we're going to need a different process form the way we set other standards. And a different process may well require legislative action. We want something that's better, that's faster, just as you do. Before we're finished, I suspect that business, labor and OSHA will have to approach Congress for help in defining -- and paying for -- a different way for promulgating exposure limits for chemical hazards.
  • The companies you represent are some of the best in the world in safety and health protection. Individually -- and collectively -- I know I can point to you as excellent role models. And I often do.
  • I value your leadership. I trust your advice. And I depend upon your partnership. I look forward to working with you as we tackle the challenging issues in occupational safety and health together.

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