How Can OSHA Help Me?
OSHA can provide extensive help through a variety of programs, including assistance about safety and health programs, state plans, workplace consultations, voluntary protection programs, strategic partnerships, training and education, and more.
How does safety and health program management assistance help employers
Working in a safe and healthful environment can stimulate innovation and creativity and result in increased performance and higher productivity. To assist employers and employees in developing effective safety and health programs, OSHA published recommended Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (Federal Register 54(18):3904–3916, January 26, 1989). These voluntary guidelines can be applied to all worksites covered by OSHA. The guidelines identify four general elements that are critical to the development of a successful safety and health management system:
• management leadership and employee involvement,
• worksite analysis,
• hazard prevention and control, and
• safety and health training.
The guidelines recommend specific actions under each of these general elements to achieve an effective safety and health program. The Federal Register notice is available online at www.osha.gov.
What are state plans?
State plans are OSHA-approved job safety and health programs operated by individual states or territories instead of Federal OSHA. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) encourages states to develop and operate their own job safety and health plans and permits state enforcement of OSHA standards if the state has an approved plan. Once OSHA approves a state plan, it funds 50 percent of the program’s operating costs. State plans must provide standards and enforcement programs, as well as voluntary compliance activities, that are at least as effective as those of Federal OSHA. There are 26 state plans: 23 cover both private and public (state and local government) employment, and 3 (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) cover only the public sector. For more information on state plans, see the listing at the end of this publication, or visit OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.
How can consultation assistance help employers?
In addition to helping employers identify and correct specific hazards, OSHA’s consultation service provides free, onsite assistance in developing and implementing effective workplace safety and health management systems that emphasize the prevention of worker injuries and illnesses. Comprehensive consultation assistance provided by OSHA includes a hazard survey of the worksite and an appraisal of all aspects of the employer’s existing safety and health management system. In addition, the service offers assistance to employers in developing and implementing an effective safety and health management system. Employers also may receive training and education services, as well as limited assistance away from the worksite.
Who can get consultation assistance and what does it cost?
Consultation assistance is available to small employers (with fewer than 250 employees at a fixed site and no more than 500 corporate wide) who want help in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. Funded largely by OSHA, the service is provided at no cost to the employer. Primarily developed for smaller employers with more hazardous operations, the consultation service is delivered by state governments employing professional safety and health consultants. No penalties are proposed or citations issued for hazards identified by the consultant. The employer’s only obligation is to correct all identified serious hazards within the agreed-upon correction time frame.
Can OSHA assure privacy to an employer who asks for consultation assistance?
OSHA provides consultation assistance to the employer with the assurance that his or her name and firm and any information about the workplace will not be routinely reported to OSHA enforcement staff.
Can an employer be cited for violations after receiving consultation assistance?
If an employer fails to eliminate or control a serious hazard within the agreed-upon time frame, the consultation project manager must refer the situation to the OSHA enforcement office for appropriate action. This is a rare occurrence, however, because employers request the service for the expressed purpose of identifying and fixing hazards in their workplaces.
Does OSHA provide any incentives for seeking consultation assistance?
Yes. Under the consultation program, certain exemplary employers may request participation in OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). Eligibility for participation in SHARP includes, but is not limited to, receiving a full-service, comprehensive consultation visit, correcting all identified hazards, and developing an effective safety and health management system. Employers accepted into SHARP may receive an exemption from programmed inspections (not complaint or accident investigation inspections) for a period of 1 year initially, or 2 years upon renewal. For more information concerning consultation assistance, see the consultation directory at the end of this publication, contact your regional or area OSHA office, or visit OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.
What is the Voluntary Protection Program?
Voluntary Protection Programs (VPPs) represent one part of OSHA’s effort to extend worker protection beyond the minimum required by OSHA standards. VPP — along with onsite consultation services, full-service area offices, and OSHA’s Strategic Partnership Program (OSPP) — represents a cooperative approach which, when coupled with an effective enforcement program, expands worker protection to help meet the goals of the OSH Act.
How does the Voluntary Protection Program work?
There are three levels of VPPs: Star, Merit, and Demonstration. All are designed to do the following:
• recognize employers who have successfully developed and implemented effective and comprehensive safety and health management systems;
• encourage these employers to continuously improve their safety and health management systems;
• motivate other employers to achieve excellent safety and health results in the same outstanding way; and
• establish a relationship between employers, employees, and OSHA that is based on cooperation.
How does VPP help employers and employees?
VPP participation can mean the following:
• reduced numbers of worker fatalities, injuries, and illnesses;
• lost-workday case rates generally 50 percent below industry averages;
• lower workers’ compensation and other injury- and illness-related costs;
• improved employee motivation to work safely, leading to a better quality of life at work;
• positive community recognition and interaction;
• further improvement and revitalization of already good safety and health programs; and
• a positive relationship with OSHA.
How does OSHA monitor VPP sites?
OSHA reviews an employer’s VPP application and conducts a VPP onsite evaluation to verify that the safety and health management systems described are operating effectively at the site. OSHA conducts onsite evaluations on a regular basis, annually for participants at the Demonstration level, every 18 months for Merit, and every 3 to 5 years for Star. Each February, all participants must send a copy of their most recent annual evaluation to their OSHA regional office. This evaluation must include the worksite’s record of injuries and illnesses for the past year.
Can OSHA inspect an employer who is participating in the VPP?
Sites participating in VPP are not scheduled for regular, programmed inspections. OSHA handles any employee complaints, serious accidents, or significant chemical releases that may occur at VPP sites according to routine enforcement procedures. Additional information on VPP is available from OSHA national, regional, and area offices, listed at the end of this booklet. Also, see Outreach on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.
How can a partnership with OSHA improve worker safety and health?
OSHA has learned firsthand that voluntary, cooperative partnerships with employers, employees, and unions can be a useful alternative to traditional enforcement and an effective way to reduce worker deaths, injuries, and illnesses. This is especially true when a partnership leads to the development and implementation of comprehensive workplace safety and health management system.
What is OSHA’s Strategic Partnership Program (OSPP)?
OSHA Strategic Partnerships are alliances among labor, management, and government to foster improvements in workplace safety and health. These partnerships are voluntary, cooperative relationships between OSHA, employers, employee representatives, and others such as trade unions, trade and professional associations, universities, and other government agencies. OSPPs are the newest member of OSHA’s family of cooperative programs.
What do OSPPs do?
These partnerships encourage, assist, and recognize the efforts of the partners to eliminate serious workplace hazards and achieve a high level of worker safety and health. Whereas OSHA’s Consultation Program and VPP entail one-on-one relationships between OSHA and individual worksites, most strategic partnerships seek to have a broader impact by building cooperative relationships with groups of employers and employees.
Are there different kinds of OSPPs?
There are two major types:
• comprehensive, which focus on establishing comprehensive safety and health management systems at partnering worksites; and
• limited, which help identify and eliminate hazards associated with worker deaths, injuries, and illnesses, or have goals other than establishing comprehensive worksite safety and health programs. OSHA is interested in creating new OSPPs at the national, regional, and local levels. OSHA also has found limited partnerships to be valuable. Limited partnerships might address the elimination or control of a specific industry hazard.
What are the benefits of participation in the OSPP?
Like VPP, OSPP can mean the following:
• fewer worker fatalities, injuries, and illnesses;
• lower workers’ compensation and other injury- and illness-related costs;
• improved employee motivation to work safely, leading to a better quality of life at work and enhanced productivity;
• positive community recognition and interaction;
• development of or improvement in safety and health management systems; and
• positive interaction with OSHA. For more information about this program, contact your nearest OSHA office or go to the agency website at www.osha.gov.
Does OSHA have occupational safety and health training for employers and employees?
Yes. The OSHA Training Institute in Des Plaines, IL, provides basic and advanced training and education in safety and health for federal and state compliance officers, state consultants, other federal agency personnel, and private sector employers, employees, and their representatives. Institute courses cover diverse safety and health topics including electrical hazards, machine guarding, personal protective equipment, ventilation, and ergonomics. The facility includes classrooms, laboratories, a library, and an audiovisual unit. The laboratories contain various demonstrations and equipment, such as power presses, woodworking and welding shops, a complete industrial ventilation unit, and a sound demonstration laboratory. More than 57 courses dealing with subjects such as safety and health in the construction industry and methods of compliance with OSHA standards are available for personnel in the private sector. In addition, OSHA’s 73 area offices are full-service centers offering a variety of informational services such as personnel for speaking engagements, publications, audiovisual aids on workplace hazards, and technical advice. For more information on grants, training, and education, write: OSHA Training Institute, Office of Training and Education, 1555 Times Drive, Des Plaines, IL 60018; call (847) 297–4810; or see Outreach on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.
Does OSHA give money to organizations for training and education?
OSHA awards grants through its Susan Harwood Training Grant Program to nonprofit organizations to provide safety and health training and education to employers and workers in the workplace. The grants focus on programs that will educate workers and employers in small business (fewer than 250 employees), training workers and employers about new OSHA standards or about high-risk activities or hazards. Grants are awarded for 1 year and may be renewed for an additional 12 months depending on whether the grantee has performed satisfactorily. OSHA expects each organization awarded a grant to develop a training and/or education program that addresses a safety and health topic named by OSHA, recruit workers and employers for the training, and conduct the training. Grantees are also expected to follow up with people who have been trained to find out what changes were made to reduce the hazards in their workplaces as a result of the training. Each year OSHA has a national competition that is announced in the Federal Register and on the Internet at www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can contact the OSHA Office of Training and Education, 1555 Times Drive, Des Plaines, Illinois 60018, (847) 297–4810, for more information.
Does OSHA have other assistance materials available?
OSHA has a variety of materials and tools available on its website at www.osha.gov. These include e-Tools such as Expert Advisors and Electronic Compliance Assistance Tools (e-CATs), Technical Links, regulations, directives, publications, videos, and other nformation for employers and employees. OSHA’s software programs and compliance assistance tools walk you through challenging safety and health issues and common problems to find the best solutions for your workplace. OSHA’s comprehensive publications program includes more than 100 titles to help you understand OSHA requirements and programs. OSHA’s CD-ROM includes standards, interpretations, directives, and more and can be purchased on CD-ROM from the U.S. Government Printing Office. To order, write to the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, or phone (202) 512–1800. Specify OSHA Regulations, Documents and Technical Information on CD-ROM (ORDT), GPO Order No. S/N 729-013-00000-5.
What do I do in case of an emergency? Or if I need to file a complaint?
To report an emergency, file a complaint, or seek OSHA advice, assistance, or products, call (800) 321–OSHA or contact your nearest OSHA regional or area office listed at the end of this publication. The teletypewriter (TTY) number is (877) 889–5627.You can also file a complaint online and obtain more information on OSHA federal and state programs by visiting OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.