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Speeches - (Archived) Table of Contents
• Information Date: 06/08/2004
• Presented To: American Society of Safety Engineers
• 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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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 Society of Safety Engineers
Professional Development Conference and Exposition
Las Vegas, Nevada
June 8, 2004
  • Good morning. Thank you, Skipper. I'm really delighted to join you for our professional development conference. As a safety and health professional, this is the conference to attend.

  • A wise man once said, "Our growth depends not on how many experiences we devour, but how many we digest." I hope each of you will take the opportunity at this conference to network with other safety and health professionals, study with experts, digest what you have learned and then apply it. That way you can experience real growth -- both personally and professionally.

  • And as we grow, employers and workers will benefit from our increased experience and expertise. And we will advance further the cause of safety and health on the job in America. That is what we do. That is who we are.

  • That is our mission. This is our purpose in life: Reduce occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

  • Now we know every business has a bottom line. So do we. Ours as safety and health professionals is the triple bottom line: injuries, illnesses and deaths on the job. To achieve the lowest values, we're continuing our balanced approach of

    • Strong, fair and effective enforcement
    • Outreach, education and compliance assistance
    • Partnerships and cooperative programs

    And you know, we all use this approach, whether in industry or government.
Strong, fair and effective enforcement
  • Enforcement serves as the underpinning of everything we do. We're using national and local emphasis programs and site-specific targeting to focus on the right workplaces.

  • To date, we have completed about 25,300 inspections in this fiscal year. We are right on target to reach our goal of 37,700 by September 30. And our enhanced enforcement program is helping to assure we don't allow recalcitrant employers to incorporate into the cost of doing business OSHA penalties by just paying for the violations instead of coming into compliance with the law. Inspections are the activity -- compliance, reduced workplace hazards and fewer injuries and illnesses are the results.

Outreach, education and compliance assistance
  • Outreach, education and compliance assistance is also a critical component of our strategy. OSHA's website at www.osha.gov continues to be one of our most popular sources of information. Visits to our website shot up dramatically from 2002 to 2003 -- increasing by 150% in a year. We expect to host more than 50 million visitors this year.

  • Two new features allow visitors to personalize the site and navigate more easily. MyOSHA lets visitors set up their own page to link to the topics they are interested in. And QuickStart offers a step-by-step guide to identify major OSHA requirements and guidance materials. We offer many other services -- and you know them well -- our toll-free line, QuickTakes, consultation services and training courses.

Partnerships and Cooperative Programs
  • Our partnerships and cooperative programs have also increased significantly -- SHARPS sites up to 788; Strategic Partnerships are now at 217. We have 191 Alliances, and we have 1086 VPP sites. Our plan is to draw more and more workplaces into these programs because they drive superior performance. They save lives, injuries and illnesses.

  • Last year, we celebrated our 1,000th VPP site. Today we are looking at ways to enable even more workplaces and their workers to reap the benefits of participation. We want to remove barriers for potential applicants, optimize our collective resources and provide incentives to excel in safety and health performance.

  • With the assistance and support of leaders from the business community and labor organizations, federal agencies and other stakeholders, we will expand and improve our Voluntary Protection Programs!

  • We have three new programs under development:

    • OSHA Challenge (Pilot)
    • VPP Corporate (Pilot) and
    • VPP Construction.

    We officially launched the pilots for OSHA Challenge and VPP Corporate two weeks ago. We have been piloting VPP Construction over the last few years, and we expect to launch the final program later this year.

  • Let me talk a little about the OSHA Challenge pilot. The OSHA Challenge pilot is designed to assist those who want to advance safety and health, realize value and continuously improve safety and health. OSHA provides participants with a progressive ladder to achieve better safety and health performance. The process guides participants through incremental stages -- three to be precise -- commensurate with the development and implementation of effective safety and health management elements.

  • In OSHA Challenge, we will take advantage of the growing numbers of companies, federal agencies and nonprofit associations with VPP experience who are willing to reach out to others who want assistance. These organizations will serve as Challenge Administrators.

  • Challenge Administrators will assist and encourage participants to develop stronger programs. They will help them collect data and track their performance as they progress. OSHA will provide recognition for each participant as they progress through the three stages of OSHA Challenge. We want workplaces to grow in safety and health. We want to recognize them for the growth.

  • We are piloting this program with an outstanding group of nine Challenge Administrators -- trade associations, individual companies and the VPPPA. Each of the charter administrators has agreed to sponsor at least 10 sites. They will assist and encourage these sites and track their performance. Once a Challenge participant successfully moves up the ladder to the last stage, they should be ready to move up and may be considered for expedited participation in the VPP Star or Merit programs.

  • Our second new program is called VPP Corporate. This program is designed to remove barriers faced by some corporations desiring to implement VPP company-wide or at a large number of their facilities.

  • The current site VPP application and approval process can be duplicative for some corporations that have standardized safety and health management systems. In VPP Corporate, we have reduced some of the redundancy in the application and onsite evaluation processes. Streamlined application and onsite evaluation processes are intended to minimize non-value added redundancies while at the same time assure the integrity and quality of the VPP process.

  • Six corporations -- and the U.S. Postal Service -- are piloting VPP Corporate. Many more are interested. You can find out more about both these pilot programs in the VPP workshop later in the conference. Keep in mind as we conduct these pilots, we are committed to maintaining the integrity and quality of VPP Star and Merit.

  • Finally, later this year we will introduce VPP Construction. We're redesigning a VPP process to better fit the unique aspects of the mobile construction industry. We are developing this program based on our short-term and mobile workforce demonstration programs that have been underway over the last few years.

  • We are working now on the Federal Register proposal and hope to publish it later this year. But we have several critical issues that must be addressed. Such as:

    • What should be required for baseline hazard analysis? This requirement could be difficult for small construction companies.
    • How should we handle onsite evaluations -- how many sites should we visit?
    • How do we handle approvals if some sites are ready for Star and others for Merit and perhaps some not ready at all?
    • We're also considering options for the requirements for annual emergency evacuation drills. This makes sense because construction sites change daily and the workforce changes as well.

  • There is a special workshop on VPP Construction at this conference, and if you have questions or want to learn more about VPP construction, I encourage you to attend that. We need your input to finalize the proposal.
  • Another of our partnership efforts is our Alliance program. Alliances are agreements -- without concessions -- with labor unions, companies, trade and professional associations and other federal agencies designed to promote safety and health. These 191 partnerships have increased access to information and helped employers and employees improve their safety and health efforts.

  • I'm especially excited about the work we're doing with several Alliances to make the business case for safety and health. Dow Chemical recently released the first case, which successfully addressed ergonomics hazards in the company's design and construction division, enabling the company to reach its goal of reducing its reportable injury and illness rate by 90 percent -- before the target date of 2005.

Dow Chemical Business Case
  • Using the Six Sigma process, the company challenged a team to identify the primary contributing factors to MSDs and reduce those factors by 70 percent. The team followed a four-step process-measure, analyze, improve and control.

  • They identified several root causes:

    • Employees didn't recognize the importance of ergonomics to their personal well-being
    • Employees did not always follow proper procedures
    • Some furniture wasn't designed or adjusted correctly
    • Ergonomics wasn't emphasized by managers and the business unit

  • To solve the problem, the team recommended upgrading work stations and increasing awareness of the importance of ergonomics -- for both managers and workers. The control step involved education and training and proper follow-up.

  • As a result, the identified risk factors have been reduced 64% since the baseline measurement. The impact on injuries is also clear: 53% of ergonomic-related injuries in 2001 were lost-time or required advanced medical treatment; only 30% of cases were that severe in 2003.

  • Perhaps just as important, this case study has been shared so that others recognize MSDs can be reduced, and these steps can help prevent ergonomics-related injuries.

Additional Business Cases
  • We are also working with Abbott Laboratories and Georgetown University's Center for Business and Public Policy to develop a number of additional case studies. All of these will go on our website on the Alliance page.

  • Over the next several months we'll have information on

    • The ergonomics program for office environments developed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
    • General safety and health management systems from Auto Parts Manufacturing Corporations.
    • Fleet safety for the sales force at Abbott Laboratories.
    • Construction project safety from Great American Ball Park.
    • And engineering controls to reduce ergonomics hazards from Countryside Care Nursing Home.

  • We're also working other companies such as Johnson & Johnson to identify more case studies. In addition to placing these on our website, we'll be sharing them with the academic community for inclusion in business, medical and engineering curricula.

  • I saw the piece ASSE wrote for the IHS News on business cases. You recognize we need to continue the message.

ASSE Alliance
  • Now, speaking of ASSE, another very important Alliance is the one we have with ASSE. And in a few minutes, we'll be renewing that Alliance for two years.

  • The OSHA and ASSE Alliance, signed on December 4, 2002, focuses on reducing musculoskeletal disorders by providing information and guidance and sharing best practices and technical knowledge on how to reduce and prevent employee exposure to ergonomic risk factors as well as develop, implement or improve ergonomic programs.

  • In addition, ASSE has been most helpful to OSHA in mentoring and assisting agency staff as they work on professional certification -- including a mentoring reception at this year's conference -- today at 5:30 in the Hilton.

  • We especially appreciate the work ASSE's ergonomics task force has done as well as the ergo resources project -- building a database of ergonomic assessment tools and best practices on the web.

  • Many ASSE chapters have also worked with local and regional OSHA offices -- in Regions I, II, IV, VI in local Alliances on a wide variety of issues.

  • I'm looking forward to renewing the national Alliance -- and expanding it to include youth workers and Hispanic outreach. Skipper and I will be signing it in just a few minutes in your Service Center.

  • Before we do that I want to talk with you briefly about a couple of other important issues that OSHA is working on. The first is motor vehicle safety.

Motor Vehicle Safety
  • Motor vehicle safety is one of the specific areas addressed by our five-year strategic management plan -- for good reason. Highway-related incidents are the number one cause of occupational fatalities in the U.S. In 2002, they cost 1,372 Americans their lives. That is 25% of work-related deaths.

  • We have several strategies to address this problem. One of them is our Alliance with NETS -- the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. NETS kicked off Drive Safely to Work Week last week. We're working together to develop training on safe driving practices and guidelines for establishing motor vehicle safety programs.

  • The OSHA-Dow Alliance is also working on two case studies on motor vehicle safety. One will address incidental employee operators and the other will focus on motor vehicle fleet safety involving contract carriers.

  • But there's more we can do -- beginning with the federal work force. I am not talking about a regulatory approach. We are approaching this through outreach and education, regardless what the cover of the NSC magazine said this month.

  • We are still working on the details, but we will be announcing more later on promoting seat belt use among federal employees. As per a Presidential directive, we want every federal employee to buckle up -- whether they are driving or riding in government vehicles, rental cars, cabs or their own personal cars.

  • Seat belts save lives. We know it. We intend to focus on our own employees in the federal government to make sure that message is clear and lead by example.

Homeland Security
  • Another critical issue is homeland security. OSHA's efforts at the World Trade Center Disaster Site established the foundation for our role in national emergency preparedness today.

  • As a result of our work in this and other high profile disasters, I think more people are more aware than ever before that worker safety is a critical component of domestic emergency preparedness and response efforts. And OSHA's role in homeland security has expanded.

  • We've been working with the Department of Homeland Security to define the role of the safety officer in the Incident Command System, and we'll be part of the National Integration Center that will oversee this system.

  • DHS is also developing a new National Response Plan, which applies to virtually all disasters -- floods, hurricanes, wildfires, as well as terrorist events. This plan includes all phases -- prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. OSHA is supporting DHS by drafting a Worker Health and Safety Support Annex to the plan. We want to make sure that worker safety -- for responders, receivers and recovery workers -- is managed during every phase of an emergency whenever the National Response Plan is activated.

  • To further help those who work on disaster sites, we are developing a Disaster Site Worker Training Program. Workers who take the training will receive "Authorized Disaster Site Worker" cards -- similar to the cards from OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour outreach training.

  • We're also developing guidance for first receivers -- for hospital emergency personnel who may be exposed to hazardous substances when victims for mass casualties arrive for treatment. This guidance is now in final review, and we'll be putting it on our website within a couple of months.

  • On our website you can also find an e-Tool on the Incident Command System. It offers basic information to help understand how emergencies will be managed.

  • Finally, we are creating Specialized Response Teams. These are teams of seven to eleven experts that we can deploy rapidly when an emergency occurs. They will be equipped and trained to provide technical assistance to support the response to emergencies. Each team will focus on a different issue: toxic chemicals, biological agents, ionizing radiation or structural collapse hazards, and they will support OSHA's regional response.

  • Our goal is to be ready when an incident occurs to support our nation's efforts to minimize the impact of the incident and assure those involved are properly protected.

  • As we look at the safety and health landscape in 2004, our vision is clear -- zero injuries, illnesses and deaths in America's workplaces.

  • OSHA is a safety and health agency, not just a regulatory agency any more. And our work continues as we work to assure compliance with safety and health laws and assure that workers have, to the extent possible, a safe and healthful workplace in which to work.

  • We have moved ahead over the last 30+ years, but we have a lot more to learn and more to accomplish. We are partners in this effort, and by working with each and every one of you -- together we can create a safer and more healthful work environment while strengthening this country's economic and social base.

  • Workers in our Nation and our economy -- deserve our very best.

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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