Plans for OSHA According to Solis and Barab

At the recent American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) annual conference in San Antonio, attendees were treated to speeches delivered from both U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Jordan Barab.

The resounding message being that Department of Labor (DOL) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforcement efforts are now, and will continue to be, a high priority.

Fred Hosier, editor for Safety NewsAlert, quoted Solis as saying, “We’re here to help companies provide safe workplaces, but we’ll also crack down on those who don’t,” in his article titled “Secretary Solis: We’re back in the enforcement business.”

Let this be yet another reminder that employers must do more to ensure OSHA compliance, especially those with previous and repeat violations. And, OSHA is not wasting time acting on its claim to be tougher on enforcement.

In fact, Dave Johnson, editor for Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN), provided insight into the new OSHA agenda as described by Barab, in his article titled “Full Speed Ahead.”

Here are a few excerpts:

  • "OSHA will not wait any longer to deal with construction fatalities. SWAT teams of inspectors will sweep over Texas in the coming weeks as part of a new initiative aimed specifically at the Texas construction industry.
  • National Emphasis Programs are in the works for enforcement action in the chemical industry and closer review of injury and illness recordkeeping for evidence of under-reporting.
  • OSHA’s look into the recordkeeping accuracy of a select number of companies will also include reviewing medical records and safety program policies that might affect injury and illness reporting.  'I know safety bingo and incentive contests are a very big business, along with the behavioral philosophies that back up many of these programs' said Barab.  'But we are going to take a very close look at incentive programs that award prizes for fewest recorded injuries. That make workers reluctant to report.'   In general, said Barab, 'we believe the focus should be on engineering out the hazards, on physical conditions, not worker behaviors."

To read the full article, as well other ASSE recaps from Johnson, including one titled the “10 Tenets of Obama’s OSHA,click here.