Michaels Shares Vision at All-Hands Meeting

The text of his Feb. 4 speech is posted on OSHA’s popular website. He said 2012 was "a remarkable year, because as we were hard at work, we watched the empirical evidence continue to accumulate: OSHA inspections prevent injuries, and we do this without hurting employment or employer profitability."

The text of OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels' speech during a Feb. 4 all-hands meeting has now been posted by the agency. Now three years into his tenure, Michaels thanked his chief of staff, Debbie Berkowitz; the two deputy assistant secretaries, Jordan Barab and Richard Fairfax, and numerous other employees while recapping 2012 and earlier accomplishments and looking ahead to 2013.

Beside issuing three major standards and launching several new national, regional, and local emphasis programs, OSHA has launched its Severe Violator Enforcement Program and issued a record number of significant and egregious enforcement cases, he said.

"Last year, we removed six hundred and eighty five thousand workers from job hazards. We conducted nearly forty one thousand Federal OSHA inspections, and another fifty one thousand with our State plan partners," he said. "We provided vital compliance assistance and outreach. We responded to more than two hundred thousand people who called OSHA's 1-800 number, or phoned the area office, or sent an email asking for help. We welcomed more than two hundred million visitors to OSHA's website for help -- an all-time high. We built new alliances with consulates to reach vulnerable workers. And we conducted thousands of training sessions and meetings to help employers and workers improve safety in the workplace. We provided free on-site assistance to nearly thirty thousand small and medium-size businesses, to help protect more than 1.4 million workers nationwide.

"And after many years of hard work, we issued an important new rule aligning our Hazard Communication standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to Haz Comm will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers to do their jobs. 2012 was also a remarkable year, because as we were hard at work, we watched the empirical evidence continue to accumulate: OSHA inspections prevent injuries, and we do this without hurting employment or employer profitability.

"I have been saying this since I joined the agency: We at OSHA don't kill jobs-we stop jobs from killing workers. Three rigorous studies, all recently published in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals, have confirmed the effectiveness of our enforcement activities," Michaels added.

He also mentioned several compliance officers and other employees who have ordered workers removed from dangerous locations and helped employers eliminate hazards.

"OSHA is made up of individuals who are ready to respond when disaster strikes, like Elias Vela, Theresa Salazar, Marsha Lake-Wilson, and Letetica Barnes, who staffed the incident command center after tornadoes ripped through Texas in April," he said. "This is an agency full of people like Lisa Gilpin, Michael Moon, Shannon Huffman, and Todd Underwood, who conducted the painstaking investigation following the tragic explosion at Bartlett Grain in Kansas in 2011, which killed six workers and injured two more.

"Two years ago, after an enormous chemical explosion and fire hospitalized four workers at an adhesive manufacturing plant in Massachusetts, our staff initiated an inspection that led to multiple egregious violations, and we entered the company into our Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Since then, the employer has invested nearly twenty million dollars into making the facility safer. Now the company has started talking about the road to VPP status. These kinds of stories really drive home that we are succeeding on all fronts to protect workers.:

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