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Speeches - (Archived) Table of Contents
• Information Date: 05/12/2003
• Presented To: American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo
• Speaker: John L. Henshaw
• 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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.
John L. Henshaw
American Industrial Hygiene
Conference & Expo
"Navigating Uncharted Territory"
Dallas, Texas
May 12, 2003

  • Good morning. It's great to be here today to talk about navigating uncharted territories. For some it might be a little intimidating to talk about places not well traveled, but think of the possibilities for more positive gains for the workers in America.

  • I want to thank Gayla (McCluskey) and Patrick (Breysee) and the board members and staff of AIHA and ACGIH for inviting me. We have a lot to talk about and a lot of work to do. I especially appreciate all the work that Tom (Grumbles) and Vickie (Wells) have done in putting this conference together. This has all the promise of being the best, most productive conference ever.

  • Now let's talk about the charted and uncharted waters ahead - those sometimes stormy, choppy or smooth as glass. As a sailor, I know sailors carry a compass, a set of parallel rules and a GPS to make sure we stay on our charted course and can return when we find a successful previously uncharted course.

  • Sailors must use their charts, plot their course and keep an eye on their instruments to assure they stay on course and reach their destination. So, too, we must use our charts of success, plot our course forward and use our data to assure we fulfill our mission.

  • It's also important that we focus most closely on what is immediately before us rather than far in the distance. As Winston Churchill said, "It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time."

  • Taking your advice and the advice of other safety and health stakeholders all over the nation, OSHA has assessed where we have been, what we have done and what we have accomplished. Based on this, we've developed a new strategic management plan that we are announcing and releasing today to guide us for the next five years.

  • Our objective, like yours, is to assure a safe and healthful workplace for every worker in America. Our outcome measure is the triple bottom line - more dramatic reductions in occupational injuries, illnesses and deaths in the U.S.

  • Today, I want to share our new management plan with you and the nation. But first, I believe it's important to look at what we have accomplished and how we achieved those successes before we talk about the path forward.
Progress to Date
  • Since 1971, the workplace fatality rate has declined 62%, and occupational injury and illness rates have dropped 42%, while at the same time employment in this country has significantly increased to 114 million workers. That's terrific progress - but we want keep those numbers moving downward - preferably at an even a steeper rate.

  • And with your continued efforts, the fatality, injury and illness rates will continue to fall, even more dramatically. However, while the numbers are going down generally, there are areas where the trends are flat and some are going up. This requires some mid-course corrections.

  • Five years ago, OSHA adopted a strategic plan designed to make a significant impact on workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths in this country. We didn't reach every goal, but with the help of safety and health professionals and employers and employees across the nation, we reached many.

  • For example, according to that plan from 1997 to 2002,

    • Injuries and illnesses declined in the 100,000 workplaces where OSHA directed its interventions.

    • Amputations declined by 24% and lead exposures by 69% - we had sought a 15% reduction in each.

    • Fatalities in construction declined 9.5% - just short of our goal of 11%.

    • Injuries and illnesses were cut by 47% at worksites engaged in cooperative relationships with OSHA.

  • How did we do this? By exercising three types of interventions, which is the basis of our strategies going forward.
Intervention Strategies
  • Building on our success, during the past two years, OSHA has focused on these three strategies:

    • strong, fair and effective enforcement;
    • outreach, education and compliance assistance; and
    • partnerships and cooperative programs.

  • By adjusting the balance of these three strategies across state and federal efforts, we will accomplish a greater impact on our triple bottom line outcome measure - reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

  • Enforcement must be strong, fair and effective to serve as the underpinning for the successful deployment of the other two strategies. We have increased our inspection activity over the years - moving from 34 thousand in 1999 to 37, 493 in 2002. And this year we'll conduct over 37,700 inspections in the federal states alone.

  • In 2002, 73 percent of OSHA citations were classified as serious, willful or repeat - the highest rate ever. And the average penalty for serious violations was one of the highest ever. Keep in mind, these are activity measures - our real measure of success is whether we are reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities - the triple bottom line.

  • To improve the impact on the triple bottom line, we recently announced an Enhanced Enforcement Program geared toward employers who repeatedly violate OSHA standards and fail to make corrections. We must find ways to stop the cycle of incorporating into the "cost of doing business" - citation and penalties. This program includes five elements:

    1. Follow-up inspections
    2. Programmed inspections
    3. Public awareness
    4. Settlements
    5. Federal Court Enforcement

  • Every working American has the right to a safe and healthful workplace. We must not allow recalcitrant employers to ignore that.

  • Another significant improvement is our regulatory agenda. We have streamlined it. It's no longer a facade or a lengthy wish list that provides political cover. In past years, projects remained on the list for years - but with no activity. Today, it includes only active, ongoing projects - truly issues we are working on over the next 12 months. When something is on our regulatory agenda now, we are working on it. And we are meeting the milestones we have set. You can count on it.

  • Last September we issued a final standard on traffic control signs, signals and barricades to reduce fatalities in highway construction. We issued an updated exit routes standard last November. We're working on many new standards - for example, hexavalent chromium, crystalline silica, noise in construction, and assigned protection factors for respirators, just to name a few. For a complete listing, check our regulatory agenda on the web - and there will be a new one out next Monday.

  • We are also providing guidance for employers and employees - on ergonomics for nursing homes, retail groceries - the draft released last Friday, poultry processing and shipyards and on other issues such as beryllium, anthrax and SARS. We are developing guidance materials for 10 specific construction operations.

  • We have also significantly expanded outreach, education and compliance assistance. We have 70 compliance assistance specialists - one in each of our area offices - whose job is to provide assistance, sell safety and health, and provide guidance and training.

  • We've significantly increased OSHA training - reaching nearly 19,000 students through our Training Institute and Education Centers. Beginning this year the OSHA Training Institute moved into a new state-of-the-art facility in Chicago, and we nearly tripled the number of Education Center facilities, mostly at community colleges and universities. Our Outreach training Program now reaches more than a quarter of a million students and nearly 90,000 receive training through our grants program.

  • In addition, we've added many new partnerships. We now have 951 sites participating in our Voluntary Protection Programs, 179 Strategic Partnerships and 25 Alliances.

  • Our Strategic Management Plan for the next 5 years is to build on these successes and achieve even greater gains. Our vision is some day every employer and employee in the Nation will recognize that safety and health add value to businesses, workplaces and lives.

  • The value for business is clear: focusing on safety and health is the right thing to do; it saves money and adds value to the organization. And workplace injuries and illnesses are costly. According to recent calculations by the Liberty Mutual Group, U.S. businesses are paying a staggering $155 billion to $232 billion on workers' compensation losses annually.

  • Safety and health add value to the workplace as well. The benefits include increased productivity, higher quality, increased morale and reduced turnover.

  • Clearly, safety and health add value to life. For workers, getting hurt or sick is not just physically painful. On-the-job injuries and illnesses can significantly reduce income, increase stress and hinder a full family life.

  • Now looking ahead, we know we face many challenges - some new and some old. The American workplace is changing. Employment has more than doubled since OSHA was created in 1971. The 114 million workers now covered by OSHA are more diverse. Our economy now focuses more on producing services than on producing goods. Fewer workers are employed in large, fixed site workplaces. More hold jobs in small firms, do temporary work, or work at home.

  • We need to address the needs of contract workers, youth workers and older workers. More of our workers are foreign born. More are minorities and many do not speak any English. More women are employed. Many workers hold multiple jobs - and change jobs more frequently. More Americans work from home or at mobile locations. And for the foreseeable future, the majority of workers in America work for smaller firms - those with 100 or fewer employees. And U.S. workers put in the longest work day in the industrial world.

  • Workplace fatalities from motor vehicle accidents must be addressed and the risk from workplace violence is still too high. Health risks from hazardous materials need much more attention, and OSHA must step up to the plate to help assure that workers are protected, to the extent possible, from the impact of terrorism.

  • Our Management Plan must meet the Presidential management objectives in human capital, competitive sourcing, financial performance electronic government and budget performance. In addition, we need to meet the DOL goals including those for GPRA, which will be identified in the unified Strategic Plan for the Department of Labor. We also must gather and handle data more effectively to identify emerging issues and assure programs are producing the maximum desired impact on the triple bottom line. And we must continuously improve our organization's human resources, infrastructure and management systems.

  • Our new Strategic Management Plan is focused on achieving the ultimate outcome measure - reducing fatalities, injuries and illnesses and obtaining a maximum return on our investment - both for the short and long run. Which means that, along with our state partners, we utilize the intervention strategies that will achieve maximum results given resources deployed. Data shows a balanced approach between effective enforcement, outreach and assistance and cooperative programs saves more lives, reduces more injuries and illnesses.

  • Our 5-year management plan that will focus on achieving cultural changes that values safety and health as opposed to just racking up violations and penalties. It also focuses on industries with high injury and illness rates, with high or expanding employment, and where injuries and illnesses are continuing to increase-or decreasing very slowly. And hazards that cause fatalities and injuries and illnesses so serious that they lead to more days off work.

  • OSHA will play a role in emergency preparedness and worker protection, both from an enforcement and non-enforcement standpoint. That means taking a leadership role in worker safety and health and being recognized and working with other federal agencies. And we need to help employers and employees prepare to address potential terrorist attacks and to respond to actual attacks should they occur.

  • With or without standards and enforcement jurisdiction, this new management plan will address other non-traditional issues like motor vehicle fatalities and workplace violence. The impact of these is too great to ignore. OSHA's mission is to "assure so far as possible every working man and women in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions." And the OSH Act gives us many tools to do that - we will effectively use them all. OSHA will be more then just a regulatory agency - it will exercise leadership and advance safety and health. It will be an effective agency - fulfilling its mission as Congress intended.
OSHA's Goals for 2003-2008
  • So today, I want to unveil OSHA's new strategic management plan. This is our blueprint, our chart, to guide us over the next five years.

  • This is OSHA's management plan and many of you will have a different one due to your interests and affiliations. But I wanted to share our plan with AIHA and ACGIH members first because you understand our different roles and are deeply committed to making a difference - improving workplace safety and health above all else. And we will need your help to achieve maximum impact.

  • Under our strategic management plan, OSHA has three major goals:

    1. Reduce occupational hazards through direct intervention.
    2. Promote a safety and health culture through compliance assistance, cooperative programs and strong leadership.
    3. Maximize OSHA effectiveness and efficiency by strengthening its capabilities and infrastructure.
  • We will accomplish these goals through a combination of enforcement; standards and guidance; on-site consultation; compliance assistance, outreach, training, education and information services; and cooperative programs by expanding Voluntary Protection Programs, Strategic Partnerships, SHARP and Alliances - like our alliance with AIHA.

  • Of course, the bottom line is results. And for all of us in this room, that means fewer injuries, illnesses and deaths.

  • We expect our goals to lead to real results. And the results we are looking for are challenging. Over the next five years, we want to reduce the rate of workplace fatalities by at least 15%. And we want to reduce the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses by at least 20%.

  • We will break this goal into bite-size escalating chunks. For example, we are aiming for a 3% drop in fatalities in construction and a 1% drop in general industry during 2003 and 2004.

  • For injuries and illnesses, by 2008 we will reduce injuries and illnesses by 20% starting with a 4% drop in construction and general industry in 2003 and 2004.

  • We're also going to focus OSHA resources on specific industries where there are many severe injuries. These include:

    • Landscaping/horticultural services
    • Oil and gas field services
    • Fruit and vegetable processing
    • Concrete and concrete products
    • Blast furnace and basic steel products
    • Ship and boat building and repair
    • Public warehousing and storage

  • In addition, we're going to focus on some specific issues:

    • Amputations -- we want to see a 3% drop in both manufacturing and construction.

    • Ergonomics-related injuries -- a 4% drop across the board.

    • Blood-lead levels -- 5% decline.

    • Silica-related disease -- a significant reduction.

  • We also have established some specific goals for our compliance assistance and cooperative programs effort. For example, as we ramp-up we are targeting for 2003-2004 125 new recognition programs like VPP and SHARP and 100 new strategic partnerships or alliances this fiscal year. And we want to increase outreach and training by 10%. But, as you know, this is just the beginning.

  • We know that many of the work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths involve issues OSHA has not traditionally addressed, such as motor vehicle accidents and workplace violence. If we are going to reach our goals, we have to find ways to make a significant impact on these problems. And we intend to do that through nonregulatory approaches such as outreach and partnerships. OSHA will focus on achieving results, and the days of OSHA just being viewed as a regulatory agency are over.

  • As I mentioned earlier, OSHA will have a role in emergency preparedness and response. From a federal agency standpoint, worker safety and health is our responsibility.

  • In other areas, we are specifically targeting our efforts at certain populations where we know the needs are greatest - young workers, immigrant employers and workers, and small businesses.

  • This year we'll be focusing on developing some specific plans for promoting systematic approaches to safety and health in American workplaces, increasing our staff's compliance assistance skills and emergency planning.

  • Critical to our success as being leaders in safety and health, is our people. We're going to emphasize certification for our personnel and expand training to strengthen the expertise of our staff. About 18 months ago, we began encouraging our staff to seek certification, and it's already paying off. Since the end of FY 2001, we have had a 40% increase in professional certification.

  • We're going to maximize our effectiveness and efficiency in many areas including data gathering and analysis, management of our human capital, standards and guidance, and information technology. We will focus on improving our intervention targeting and improving occupational health issues.

  • These are just a few items on our management plan. In summary, we will have a Department goal of reducing fatalities, injuries and illnesses - 15 and 20% respectively over the next 5 years.

  • To accomplish that we have three supporting OSHA goals with detailed strategies within each to meet the Department's targets. We will focus on:

    • Reducing occupational hazards through direct intervention;
    • Promoting a safety and health culture through compliance assistance, cooperative programs and strong leadership;
    • And maximizing OSHA effectiveness and efficiency by strengthening its internal capabilities and infrastructure.
  • This is our management plan. These are the things we're going to do. But true success lies with employers, employees and safety and health professionals. You are the ones in the workplace every day. Our success depends upon yours.

  • And as a sailor I know no matter what course you set for yourself, you can't set the direction of the wind. I cannot either. All we can do is adjust our sails to get maximum forward progress. We will no doubt have to deal with sudden storms and hidden hazards, but we can weather those problems, provided we remain focused which is the purpose of the plan - stay on course, for the sake of all workers in this country.

  • OSHA and our partners may have slightly different courses but we will and can take similar paths. But our ultimate destination is exactly the same-fewer injuries, illnesses and deaths on the job. On that we are agreed and our course is set.

  • Staying on course requires persistence. As Robert Half noted, "Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely, and the likely definite."

  • We intend to persist - and we know you do, too. We look forward to continuing our work with you and, together, meeting the challenges that lie ahead.

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 - (Archived) Table of Contents

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