Workplace safety is everyone’s concern. Improving it can only happen when all parties—employers, employees, and OSHA—work together to achieve better results. Personnel, such as compliance officers, who will be in direct contact with employers should be trained on the workplaces they are inspecting, so they can make fully informed judgments. Compliance officers for the Mine Safety and Health Administration are required to have extensive experience in the mining industry and undergo training before they are allowed to conduct inspections. OSHA compliance officers should have similar preparation.
Employers overwhelmingly want to protect their employees and maintain safe workplaces. OSHA should assist employers through education and outreach. This will produce better, more effective, and longer lasting results than merely punishing them when they fail to do what is required. OSHA should be as much of a resource for employers as an enforcement agency.
OSHA should provide full transparency on the data, science, and studies used to develop its safety regulations. This provides employers subject to the regulations with the ability to assess and critique the quality of these authorities as well as ensure the regulations are based on sound policy and impose the least possible burden.
Regulations must be written in simple and clear terms so that small employers and others who need to understand their requirements can do so without the expense and complications of consultants and attorneys. Greater clarity will lead to greater compliance and improved workplace safety without excessive expenditures of resources.
All parties involved in workplace safety must be accountable for their roles. Employers must provide the necessary training, equipment, resources, and workplace culture to make sure safety in the workplace is a priority. Similarly, employees must accept that ultimately whether a workplace operates safely depends on their actions and decisions.