Here at Safety+Health, we cover various aspects of federal OSHA, such as the agency’s budget outlook, actions affecting enforcement activities, and ongoing issues* the agency is struggling with. But federal OSHA is only half the equation.
State Plan programs – which include 27 states and two territories – enforce safety and health rules at about 40 percent of the nation’s workplaces. S+H tries to cover as much of what these states are doing as possible, but it can be difficult.
During a June 25 stakeholder meeting discussing how to assess the effectiveness of State Plans states, I heard an interesting suggestion for measuring the programs: evaluating how well a state OSHA program is “getting the word out” on hazards through press releases. (The stakeholder making the suggestion was specifically talking about using press releases to link occupational health hazards with environmental hazards to gain more traction from the media.)
As a reporter, I think it would be a great idea for State Plan states to issue more releases talking about their actions. Today, most State Plan states don’t regularly do this, making it hard to know what initiatives are being undertaken or what trends may be occurring.
Given the role the media plays in helping to highlight workplace dangers – from popcorn workers lung to crane disasters – it’s a shame that State Plans don’t send more outward communication. Hopefully the recent stakeholder conversation will help change that.
*In an unrelated note, the story linked in the first paragraph about efforts to reform OSHA’s whistleblower program was written by my colleague Ashley Johnson. The American Society of Business Publication Editors recently recognized her as an Azbee Award finalist (.pdf file) for her work on the story.
The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.