John Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), vows his agency will place more focus on high-hazard jobs and risks to non-English-speaking workers in 2002.
Enforcement efforts will increase in Fiscal Year 2002, says Henshaw, with more inspections targeting workplaces where injury and illness rates are the highest. OSHA plans to conduct a total of 36,400 inspections in fiscal year 2002, up from slightly less than 35,800 inspections in fiscal year 2001 and roughly 36,000 inspections in fiscal year 2000.
Although agency has been emphasizing outreach and compliance assistance in recent months, the administration requested an increase of $3 million for enforcement efforts in the 2002 fiscal year budget request. Congress, in the meantime, was even more generous, approving an increase of $10 million for enforcement. (See related article "Compliance Assistance vs. Enforcement.")
"Our combined activities to protect workers' safety and health are all built on the foundation of a strong, fair and effective enforcement program," said Henshaw. "Our safety education programs, innovative compliance assistance and expanded safety and health partnerships all work together with strong enforcement to protect workers' lives and health. OSHA needs to keep helping the majority of employers who want to do the right thing, but we also must aggressively pursue the 'bad actors'."
OSHA's increased commitment to enforcement activities is a critical component of Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao's overall strategy to strengthen worker protections. OSHA is increasing its enforcement focus by targeting workplaces where injury and illness rates are highest and hazards are known.
OSHA will also put more enforcement focus on industries where non-English speaking workers are at greatest risk, such as construction. Henshaw noted that OSHA's increased commitment to enforcement and added resources in targeted areas will enable the agency to better meet its goals.
"Consistent, focused enforcement is one of the keys to ensuring workers' safety and health," said Henshaw. "Our new commitment to increase the number of trained, certified OSHA inspectors will also be critical to making our enforcement efforts more effective."
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])