This year's theme of the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo (AIHce) in San Diego is "powerful partnerships." It's a theme that John Henshaw, CIH, ROH, administrator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted in 2002, as well.
In his effort to "retool and reshape" OSHA, Henshaw asked several thousand AIHce attendees to "think where you can make additional contributions and where we can work together on improving occupational safety and health."
OSHA's goal, Henshaw said, is to work with professional partners such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), co-sponsors of AIHce, and other stakeholders to reach mutual goals. "Working more effectively in partnerships, we can produce an impact that is greater than the sum of individual efforts," he said. "We have a unique opportunity today to build relationships that make the biggest impact we have ever had on injury and illness reduction."
Partnerships will continue to be a major effort in the next year, Henshaw said, beyond efforts already under way with special emphasis programs and alliances with specific industries and groups. A specific area of help Henshaw seeks from associations likes AIHA and ACHIG is in enforcement. Because OSHA does not have the resources to inspect every work site in the United States, "I encourage the associations to help us develop a more effective strategy on enforcement," he added.
Speaking of enforcement, Henshaw announced Tuesday that OSHA in the coming months will emphasize health inspections, which currently account for only 22 percent of all OSHA inspections and 32 percent of the agency's inspection time. Focused inspections on health issues "has been neglected over the years," he said.
"I'm not sure how effective we are in reducing occupational illnesses," Henshaw admitted. "We need to make certain we visit sites where illness rates and hazards are the highest."
OSHA is expected to release further information on its targeted health inspections soon.