Barab: OSHA employing ‘shame’ tactics; issuing more willfuls

Cincinnati – OSHA is attempting to use the issuance of willful penalties to shame companies and, in turn, improve workplace safety, assistant OSHA administrator Jordan Barab said at the National Occupational Research Agenda Symposium 2011.

Speaking at the July 13 NIOSH-sponsored event, Barab said he believed willful penalties, regardless of the size of the fine, have a significant effect on companies. He noted that many state and local municipalities have clauses in construction contracts stating that companies applying for a contract cannot have willful violations in their history.

The practice of publicly shaming companies that have willfully violated the law has been effective, according to Barab. OSHA has increased its use of press releases to publicize when a company receives an agency citation. This, Barab said, has resulted in more companies seeking advice from attorneys and consultants on how to stay out of OSHA press releases. Those companies are being advised to ensure their workplaces are safe, he said.

“That’s exactly what we want them to say, and that again shows us that at least this strategy is having some effect,” he said.

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