An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and Labor Secretary Robert Reich stood together on May 16 in the plant of the Stromberg Sheet Metal Works, Inc. in Washington, DC to announce a reinvented approach to achieving worker health and safety in the Nation's workplaces.
The President applauded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for its achievements in the 25 years of its existence. However, the way regulations have been enforced in the past may not be the best way to do it in the next 25 years, he told more than 300 workers, union leaders, business heads, government officials, and media representatives.
"Clinton to Slash OSHA Regulations In Overhaul Plan," reported the Wall Street Journal. Similar stories appeared over the country in USAToday, the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News, and the Denver Post, to name a few.
A New Common Sense Approach
The new OSHA approach abandons red tape and process to stress common sense, partnership with industry, and results. OSHA will change the way it does business by:
o Cooperating with employers who implement effective safety and health programs and focusing on inspections for those who do not.
o Working with industry and labor to identify priorities and standards and to eliminate out-of-date or confusing rules.
o Concentrating on the most serious hazards and the most dangerous workplaces.
OSHA will also develop a performance measurement system that measures workplace safety results rather than the number of inspections and penalties. Businesses will get help with compliance, the President emphasized. "But if a business chooses not to act responsibly and puts its workers at risk, then there must be vigorous enforcement and consequences that are serious when violations are serious," he said.
What Went Before
President Clinton announced the Regulatory Reinvention Initiative in a special meeting of the heads of regulatory agencies and the cabinet On February 21. He released a follow-up memo on March 4, directing agencies to focus immediately on cutting obsolete regulations (the President asked for a list by June 1), rewarding results, creating partnerships, and negotiating with those who are regulated. The initiative builds on the regulatory philosophy set out in Executive Order No. 12866 of September 30, 1993.
One of the initiatives that OSHA will roll out nationally is "Maine 200," a program that began in 1993 when OSHA officials in Maine offered to work in partnership with the 200 most unsafe employers in the state. OSHA set aside its punishment and penalty approach. "We began to see that penalties were a means to an end, not an end itself," said Bill Freeman, OSHA Area Director for the state of Maine.
"We decided to give employers the responsibility for conducting their own inspections with guidance from us. We also restructured the way we worked, moving toward teams that cooperated, rather than individuals who competed to give the most citations." Maine's OSHA offered the companies a chance to work with their own company employees to develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health plan. In return, companies would not face a guaranteed inspection. Ninety-eight percent took OSHA up on the offer.
During the first 18 months of the program, the businesses identified nearly 100,000 workplace hazards and then eliminated more than half of these. This is more than 14 times higher than OSHA's own rate of identifying hazards through inspections. Nearly 60 percent of the employers have reduced their injury and illness rates, workers' compensation claims and insurance premiums. OSHA plans to adopt the most successful features of "Maine 200" in nine other states by the end of the year. Similar programs have been initiated in Wisconsin and Missouri and are being developed in Atlanta, Georgia and Parsippany, New Jersey.
For more information on "Maine 200", call Bill Freeman at (207) 941-8177.
A creative interagency team of federal real estate professionals in Atlanta has won one of the Vice President's Hammer Awards being presented this month in federal agencies over the nation. They call themselves the G.O.R.E (Government Owned Real Estate) team.
The team, a Reinvention Lab, did not win because of its name. It won because team members work together to think up and use quick, cost-saving ways of disposing of government property. Team members identified and removed stumbling blocks by separating law from policy--or just plain habit. They also adopted successful methods used by others (such as using master key lockboxes to show property, thus eliminating paying brokers to hold open houses) and joined forces to hold combined housing fairs and joint agency auctions. Reaction from the public has been outstanding.
The General Services Administration facilitates the G.O.R.E. team. Members come from Treasury, Resolution Trust Corporation, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration, US Marshals Service, Veterans Affairs, Rural Economic and Community Development (formerly Farmers Home Administration), and the Army Corps of Engineers.
For More Information
For information about G.O.R.E., call Patricia Bailey at (404) 331-5133. For information about Hammer Awards, call Carol Cribbs at the National Performance Review, (202) 632-0150, ext. 118. We'll have more about Hammer Awards in future issues.
For more information, contact Pat Wood, Communications Team, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006. Phone: (202) 632-0150, ext. 102; FAX: (202) 632-0390; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.