. "4 The Changing Workplace." Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade's Occupational Safety and Health Personnel. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel
inspections since fiscal year 1994. The dramatic increase in the $382 million OSHA budget that would be necessary to make inspection a credible deterrent at all 7 million work-sites does not appear likely.
OSHA is nevertheless currently soliciting comments on a draft proposed safety and health program rule that would require all employers except those in construction and agriculture to set up a safety and health program appropriate to the hazards to which their employees are exposed and the number of employees exposed. A model widely used in Europe and Asia goes even further by requiring industry to employ health and safety professionals on the basis of the size and nature of the company. One could take this approach so far as to have the government employ the health and safety professionals and assign them to various industries, as is the Scandinavian practice. Adoption of either of these European models seems highly unlikely given the substantial philosophical, social, and political differences between Europe and the United States. Even the adoption of OSHA’s proposed safety and health program rule is far from assured. Given realistic resource forecasts and the contentious nature of regulatory innovation, it is not likely that a traditional regulatory approach will, by itself, succeed in producing a major increase in demand for OSH programs in the heretofore underserved sectors of the U.S. economy. OSHA, in fact, is increasingly focusing on “outreach” programs that provide consultation and training to small business. Some of those efforts are described in Chapter 7.
A more modest and more feasible goal might focus on modification of the many existing standards that include mandates for worker training. Few of these standards say anything about quantity, quality, or efficacy, and as a result, they have had only limited success ensuring effective health and safety training in small workplaces and of the transient workforce. An exception may be that demand for OSHA-mandated worker education, exemplified by the 10-hour general industry and construction safety training courses, has grown dramatically as contractors and owners have included such requirements for hiring of workers or receiving a contract. There is also some precedent for requiring training of managers in federal safety standards. Environmental Protection Agency lead and asbestos abatement training standards, for example, require that supervisors receive the same training as workers, plus some additional training commensurate with their additional responsibilities. A large-scale demonstration project that focuses on high-quality training and evaluation of effectiveness could provide a model and an impetus for expanded worker training programs to meet the needs of the growing workforce underserved by OSH professionals.
The second type of strategy that has been effective in public health, and which is by no means incompatible with broader or more strictly