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Author: Jeff Ord, ForkliftSafety.com

Outreach, Education, and Compliance Assistance

Outreach, education and compliance assistance enable OSHA to play a vital role in preventing on-the-job injuries and illnesses. OSHA offers an extensive website at www.osha.gov that includes a special section devoted to small businesses as well as interactive eTools to help employers and employees address specific hazards and prevent injuries. For example, the agency provides employers the opportunity to personalize the information they receive through the MyOSHA page on the agency’s website and provides ergonomic information including guidelines for specific industries. In FY 2004, more than 50 million visitors logged onto OSHA.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration aims to ensure worker safety and health in the United States by working with employers and employees to create better working environments. Since its inception in 1971, OSHA has helped to cut workplace fatalities by more than 60 percent and occupational injury and illness rates by 40 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has doubled from 58 million workers at 3.5 million worksites to more than 115 million workers at 7.2 million sites.

In Fiscal Year 2005, OSHA has more than 2,220 employees, including 1,100 inspectors. The agency’s appropriation is $468.1 million.

Under the Bush Administration, OSHA is focusing on three strategies: 1) strong, fair and effective enforcement; 2) outreach, education and compliance assistance; and 3) partnerships and cooperative programs.

Strong, Fair, and Effective Enforcement

A strong, fair and effective enforcement program establishes the foundation for OSHA’s efforts to protect the safety and health of the nation’s workers. OSHA seeks to assist the majority of employers who want to do the right thing while focusing its enforcement resources on sites in more hazardous industries — especially those with high injury and illness rates. Less than 1 percent of inspections — about 300 — came under the agency’s Enhanced Enforcement Program, designed to address employers who repeatedly and willfully violate the law. Strong enforcement has helped to increase alleged violations by more than 10 percent over the past five years, including an increase of 14 percent in alleged willful violations since 2003. At the same time, injuries and illnesses continue to decline significantly.

The agency provides a variety of publications in print and online. In addition, workplace safety and health information or assistance for workers is available during business hours through OSHA’s call center at 800/321-OSHA. The hotline remains open 24 hours a day for fatality and accident reporting during non-business hours.

OSHA strives to reach all employers and employees, including those who do not speak English as a first language. The agency maintains a Spanish webpage, and Spanish-speaking operators can be reached at the OSHA national call center during business hours. Various publications, training materials and videos are available in Spanish, and OSHA continues to issue new publications. Many regional and area offices also offer information in other languages such as Japanese, Korean and Polish.

Free workplace consultations are available in every state to small businesses that want on-site help establishing safety and health programs and identifying and correcting workplace hazards. In addition, OSHA has a network of more than 70 Compliance Assistance Specialists in local offices available to provide employers and employees with tailored information and training.

Cooperative Programs

OSHA’s Alliance Program enables employers, labor unions, trade or professional groups, government agencies, and educational institutions that share an interest in workplace safety and health to collaborate with OSHA to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. A signed formal agreement between OSHA and the organization provides goals addressing training and education, outreach and communication and promoting the national dialogue on workplace safety and health.

In the Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA enters into long-term cooperative relationships with groups of employers, employees, employee representatives and, at times, other stakeholders to improve workplace safety and health. These partnerships focus on safety and health programs and include enforcement and outreach and training components. Written agreements outline efforts to eliminate serious hazards and provide ways to measure the effectiveness of a safety and health program.

The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program is designed to provide incentives and support to employers to develop, implement and continuously improve effective safety and health programs at their worksite(s). SHARP provides recognition for employers who demonstrate exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health.

The Voluntary Protection Programs, OSHA’s premier partnership, continues to pay big dividends by recognizing safety and health excellence. Today VPP worksites save millions each year because their injury and illness rates are more than 50 percent below the averages for their industries.

For more information visit www.osha.gov


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