OSHA Aims to Release Draft for Measuring State Safety Plan Effectiveness by Early June

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Key Development: OSHA looks to release new metrics for measuring effectiveness of state and federal enforcement by early June.


Potential Impact: New metrics could change how program success is measured, going beyond penalty levels and injury rates.

What's Next: OSHA hopes to hold a public meeting on the revisions June 25.

By Bruce Rolfsen  

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to hold a public meeting in June on new ways to determine whether state-run workplace safety programs are as effective as their federal counterpart, in response to concerns about existing measures, the head of the agency's state plan office said May 11.

Doug Kalinowski, director of OSHA's state plans office, said during an OSHA construction industry conference that a panel of OSHA and state plan representatives is likely to propose 15 metrics that would be used to determine if a state is meeting the requirement that its safety and health program is “at least as effective” as federal OSHA's program. The agency hopes to hold the meeting June 25, but the date is not yet official.

“ 'At least as effective' is a complicated issue,” said Kalinowski, who until March led the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Of the 50 states, 27 are authorized to run their own worker safety programs based on determinations that they are “at least as effective” as OSHA's programs.

Drafts Under Review.

Drafts of the 15 measurements are being reviewed by OSHA attorneys, he added. The agency hopes to release the draft texts in late May or early June, after state plan officials have been briefed on the proposals.

Kalinowski declined to identify the proposed metrics but said that fatality rates, the time it takes an employer to correct a problem, and how long it takes to respond to a complaint could be among the measurements presented in June.

Differences in OSHA and state enforcement efforts were highlighted by a March 2011 Labor Department inspector general report, which concluded that OSHA, while conducting an enhanced evaluation of state plans in 2009, failed to define, measure, or monitor the effectiveness of the state programs and did not evaluate the impact of its own enforcement program (41 OSHR 318, 4/14/11).

The enhanced reviews of the 27 state plans were triggered by an OSHA investigation that found Nevada's worker safety and health program failed to take adequate enforcement actions for serious and willful violations of safety standards and used poorly trained inspectors (40 OSHR 807, 9/30/10).

The official announcement on the public meeting to discuss the measurements will be published in the Federal Register in early June, he said.

By Bruce Rolfsen  

The inspector general report is available at http://www.oig.dol.gov/public/reports/oa/2011/02-11-201-10-105.pdf.

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