Wednesday, April 1, 2015

OSHA’s Newest Inspection Strategies – Will They Back-fire?

As is the case with most other government agencies, people like to complain about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers grumble about new or revised OSHA standards that are not clear and concise, “sneaky” inspectors, and undeserved citations. Workers sometimes gripe about having to follow strict safety procedures required by OSHA that they feel slows them down or makes their jobs more difficult. And safety professionals often protest when OSHA “changes the rules” by issuing a directive or letter of interpretation that seems to change (or greatly expand) their previous position on a topic.
But lately what I hear complaints about most often are OSHA’s efforts to implement new and unconventional approaches to getting into the door of businesses and organizations to inspect . . .
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  1. It is pretty frustrating that OSHA's spent so much time and money to press the issue to get employees to report their employers. As an Outreach instructor it bothers me since it takes away from time that I could be spending on educating people of the hazards out there and how to avoid them. I'm not saying it isn't important for employees to know they have the right to turn in their employer but I think it's been taken a bit to far with the recent changes to the Outreach programs and the website. It appears to me as if they are taking it this far in order to help justify their existence.
    I, unfortunately, think this will backfire too. Jose, I think you hit one of the big issues on the head for the employees. I recently read an article about an OSHA employee who work on employee complaints out in CA and blew the whistle on OSHA because so many cases were ignored or swept under the rug & he was retaliated against. According to this OSHA employee less than 3% of complaints received actually have something come from it; really disappointing. The second reason that I think it will backfire is that OSHA's so understaffed that as the article notes it will make them very reactive to the complaints vs. getting out to sites and attempting to be proactive. - Bill W.

  2. While I do think it's important that OSHA lets people know that they have the freedom to speak out like this, I do think OSHA itself should focus more on educating people rather than telling them to figure out violations on their own and go and tell them about it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter.


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