OSHA Shame Game: Do We Feel Safer Yet?

Here’s a headline for you:   OSHA cites Homerville post plant for 22 violations, proposes $279,400 fine.

Now imagine you are the company owner and you get to read that that in your local morning paper.   Some have called this the OSHA “Shame Game”  – publicly calling out businesses that violate OSHA regulations.   Theoretically the bad publicity is a powerful incentive to improve safety.   And OSHA has already said it does this on purpose:  “Early into the Obama presidency, appointed OSHA officials admitted to using press releases about fines to prompt employers to make safety improvements.

Now OSHA is stepping up the Shame Game.  On March 8th, the comment period closed for the public and industry to weigh in on an OSHA proposal that would make data from company OSHA 300 injury and illness reports public.  That was met with substantial opposition from industry, but, surprisingly, it has also sparked opposition from some state government leaders, including the Secretary of Labor in Oklahoma who said the change would cause a distortion of a company’s safety record and encourage unions, trial lawyers, and other adversaries of the marketplace.”

What is lost in all of this rhetoric is a basic question about safety -Does the stick work better than the carrot when it comes to giving companies an incentive to be safe?   Here’s an interesting article from Forbes that touches on that question.

Now that the comment period is close, it may take several months at the least  for the agency to look through them and produce a final rule.

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