OSHA: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Rekus, John F. | Occupational Hazards, October 2001 | Go to article overview

OSHA: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Rekus, John F., Occupational Hazards


A look at where the agency is serving American workers and where it needs to improve.

Yes, friends, like the Clint Eastwood movie, there are indeed three OSHAs. The good OSHA is the one that brings us wonderful things like the Web site. The bad OSHA is the one that enforces regulations that are 30 or more years out of date, and the ugly OSHA is the one whose behavior is, on occasion, reprehensible.

THE GOOD OSHA

OSHA certainly deserves recognition and praise for the good things it does, and it does many things very well. Without the threat posed by OSHA, some employers would do precious little to protect the lives of their workers. OSHA has also implemented dozens of innovative and helpful programs. While space does not permit me to elaborate on all of the good things the agency has accomplished, I'd like to point out four that I think are illustrative.

The Web Site

Anyone who's been to OSHA's Web site knows that, in the words of Virgil's Aeneas, "It is a sight wondrous to behold." The site is exceptionally easy to navigate and is a veritable gold mine of occupational safety and health information. Some of the site's attractive features:

* The most up-to-date edition of the regulations, including hundreds of letters of interpretation related to enforcement policy.

* The Field Inspection Reference Manual, which describes the agency's inspection procedures.

* The OSHA Technical Manual, which is a treasure trove of information on topics such as air sampling, noise monitoring, indoor air quality, laser safety and heat stress.

* Preambles to standards that provide an explanation and commentary on the regulatory requirements.

* A subject index covering topics that range from asbestos to zinc with thousands of links to other useful safety and health resources.

Performance Standards

Whenever I hear people complain about the standards that OSHA has written, I challenge them to tell me exactly what it is about the standards they do not like. This is because, in my opinion, these standards are truly state-of-the-art. I have to qualify that, however. When I'm talking about the standards that OSHA has written, I do not mean the ones like machine guarding, fire protection, walking and working surfaces, and all the other standards that OSHA adapted from 1960s-vintage national consensus standards.

The standards I respect are those such as confined spaces, bloodborne pathogens, lockout/tagout or the revised respiratory protection, fall protection, trenching and scaffolding standards. These new or revised standards are flexible and performance-based rather than rigid and prescriptive. They provide employers with an infinite variety of compliance options that can be tailored to site-specific conditions.

I've read the preamble to almost every standard OSHA has issued over the last 20 years, and I never cease to be amazed at the thoughtfulness and well-reasoning of many of the standards' provisions. It also seems pretty clear that OSHA carefully weighs and considers the public comments it receives. Even the casual reader can see that, for the most part, the agency really tries to be evenhanded and fair-minded in its rulemaking process.

The new standards also precipitate change and force technology. In other words, they get people to do things that they probably would not do otherwise and create opportunities for manufacturers to develop solutions to safety problems that have been with us for eons.

Take a quick look at the ads in any of the major safety and health magazines and you will see a dazzling array of lockout/tagout hardware, full-body harnesses, movable anchor points, engineered horizontal lifeline systems, bloodborne pathogen spill cleanup kits, signs, posters, labels and placards that can be used to convey hazard information, instrumentation for real-time analysis of airborne chemicals, and a host of other products that most likely would not have been created if not for the promulgation of an OSHA regulation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

OSHA: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.