Capitol Hill

OSHA's new direction

As part of the roofing industry, you are aware of the enormous effect the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has on regulating workplaces. And in past years, OSHA has received mixed reviews from the business community because of a widely held view that the agency was penalizing businesses rather than working with them to improve employee safety and health.

But that impression is beginning to change. Since President Bush named John Henshaw to oversee OSHA in June 2001, the agency has received widespread praise from a broad range of industries. The primary reason for the new perception is that Henshaw has placed compliance assistance, education and partnership at the top of OSHA's priority list. Henshaw is quick to point out that negligent employers should not take the new direction as a sign that OSHA intends to weaken or deviate from its mandate to improve workplace safety and protect U.S. workers. Rather, Henshaw believes that only through cooperative efforts will government and businesses achieve their goal of safe, healthy workplaces.

Following are several examples of OSHA's new mindset.