Henshaw: OSHA Must 'Sell' Mission of Safety, Health

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw told attendees at this year's VPPPA conference that to be successful, OSHA must "sell" the value of safety and health.

Newly-appointed OSHA Administrator John Henshaw told attendees during the opening session of this year''s Voluntary Protection Programs Participants'' Association (VPPPA) conference that to be successful, OSHA must "sell" the value of safety and health.

"You are the first to hear me say: OSHA of the 21st century will be a ''value add'' agency," Henshaw explained to attendees. "OSHA will become more outwardly focused, more engaged with its customers and more focused on meeting their needs in the pursuit of improving job safety and health."

Henshaw then outlined his four priorities for OSHA, the first of which is that OSHA become a leader in the national dialogue of safety and health.

"The OSH Act is a model for the rest of the world. And the United States has the safest workforce in the world," said Henshaw. "But too often, here at home, OSHA is perceived on the sidelines -- enforcing the standards, issuing citations, but not leading the national discussion. I intend to change that."

Secondly, Henshaw said OSHA has to make sure that its inspectors have the skills, training and expertise they need to do the job. That does not mean just interpreting the standards and issuing citations.

"Enforcement is the very underpinning of our work -- it will not be diminished," said Henshaw.

The OSHA administrator also said that the agency needs to expand its outreach, education and compliance assistance efforts.

To this end, Henshaw said that a major outreach effort on the recordkeeping rule will be announced this fall.

"We must improve on our outreach, user-friendly education, guidance documents and other tools that help employers provide safe and healthful workplaces," said Henshaw.

Henshaw''s fourth priority for OSHA is to encourage and improve voluntary efforts with partnerships on both the macro and micro levels.

"VPP is the top rung on the ladder -- the ladder of success in pursuing injury and illness reductions. But everyone is not ready to match you efforts or your success," Henshaw told attendees. "We need to engage all employers, get them on the ladder of injury and illness reductions, and help them move up."

by Virginia Foran

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