OIG to OSHA: Define 'at least as effective'

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Washington – OSHA lacks the means to determine if state-run occupational safety and health programs are “at least as effective” as the federal government, finds a newly released audit (.pdf file) from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, states choosing to operate their own federally approved OSH program must be “at least as effective” as federal OSHA. In addition to lacking a method to measure the effectiveness of State Plan programs, OSHA has not evaluated its own federal program to establish minimum criteria for states and territories to meet, OIG said in its March 31 report.

The audit also was critical of program changes OSHA has required states to undertake, noting that the federal agency did not explain how those changes would improve the effectiveness of the state programs.

OIG recommended OSHA define effectiveness, design measurements, measure federal OSHA to establish a baseline for state programs, and assess the impact of both state and federal programs’ performance.

In response, OSHA administrator David Michaels said the agency agreed with the “intent of the recommendations,” but defining effectiveness through reliance on impact measures would be “extremely problematic.”

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