Rethinking OSHA Approach

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develops workplace safety regulations that are designed to prevent workplace fatalities, work-related injuries, and occupational illnesses. OSHA staff go for inspections to ensure that standards are being met and inflict a fine occur they are not. The present-day OSHA approach is generally agreed to be ineffective to provide a safe work environment and the agency competence is under question.

Certainly, punitive strategies do not guarantee a hazard-free workplace. Inspectors spend more time on documenting abuse of regulations, rather than assisting in solving the actual problem (Pare, 2020). Management is also fully occupied by paperwork trying to satisfy the standards stated by OSHA. (Bethancourt & Cannon, 2017). Moreover, OSHA standards are overly general and are irrespective of the specific industry. Thus, Maine’s boatyard complains about the inapplicability of general hazard prevention measures to their sphere of activity (Pare, 2020). One more example is the California state plan that ensures heat protection for workers, when the OSHA standards do not include such an aspect and the agency, therefore, rejects the plan (Szymendera, 2017). The lack of actual understanding of daily operations in enterprises limits the agency’s capacities in ensuring a healthy workplace.

There is a strong possibility that positive communication between the agency and companies will lead to effective cooperation. Fewer sanctions and more non-punitive audits would encourage the management and workers to communicate with OSHA inspectors more effectively. Focus on workplace culture and morality has more potential to encourage safety than fines, command, and control (Pare, 2020). Workers taking part in implementing safety management plans will elaborate more effective measures. The inspectors’ work will then be to track how the plan is implemented and consult on complicated issues. Targeted inspections of highly dangerous sites with machine learning are also believed to help a small number of inspectors organize the work successfully (Johnson et al., 2019). Thus, workplace safety will benefit from reducing OSHA regulations and letting employers take responsibility for safety.


Bethancourt, J., & Cannon, M. (2017). OSHA, don’t tell me what to do. Proceedings of ASSE Professional Development Conference and Exposition. American Society of Safety Engineers. Web.

Johnson, M. S., Levine, D. I., & Toffel, M. W. (2019). Improving regulatory effectiveness through better targeting: Evidence from OSHA. IRLE Working Paper, 107(19), 1–90. Web.

Pare, J. (2020). Worker safety in Maine’s boatyards: Improving OSHA compliance efforts. Maine Policy Review, 29(1), 45–55. Web.

Szymendera, S. (2017). OSHA state plans: In brief, with examples from California and Arizona (CRS Report R43969). Congressional Research Service. Web.

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