OSHA Listens, Manufacturers Speak

By March 4, 2010Labor Unions

Today, OSHA held what we hope is the first of many efforts to reach out to the employer community to discuss key issues facing the agency. I was able to speak at the OSHA Listens” event to offer manufacturers’ suggestions for how OSHA can assist employers to make workplaces safer. First, it’s important to realize that our workplaces have continued to become safer. Second, policymakers need to understand what efforts have helped contribute to these improvements. In pursuing an overly aggressive, enforcement-first agenda, the agency could allocate resources away from effective compliance assistance programs.

In my remarks I emphasized that OSHA is not the entity that actually makes workplace safer. Safety is achieved by employers and employees alike. Some people who gave presentations at today’s event argued that the best way to ensure that employees are involved in workplace safety is through union representation. However, safe workplaces are a right afforded to all workers, not just those covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Today’s session afforded OSHA’s leadership a unique opportunity to hear directly from a wide array of stakeholders. While many express the opinion that safety is measured best by the number of OSHA citations and enforcement actions, we disagree. Safety is best measured by the absence of accidents, and to achieve that goal, OSHA should be a resource for employers and employees as much as it is an enforcement agency.

To read my prepared remarks, click here.

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