United States: Differing Opinions Are Vital For The Safety Community.

Most folks in the safety community know Jordan Barab, the former Obama era Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009 to 2017. You can read Jordan's take on OSHA, MSHA, safety and anything related to employees and politics on Twitter at @jbarab. His email is confinedspace2017@gmail.com. I am unapologetically a Management Labor Lawyer and serve as an advocate for Employers, so it may surprise my readers that I am going to post his comments to one of my recent posts.

First, I boxed and fought full contact until I was 50. While I do not always hold temper in check, I did acquire a tough skin and an ability to ignore minor things such as insults and broken ribs. I like scrapping, but prefer to do so with my fists than by the anonymity of social media.

Second, it's fun to disagree with folks and debate back and forth ... preferably over a glass of wine or single malt scotch. And while my profession has a reputation for believing its own infallibility ... or convincing oneself of one's righteousness ... I'm not stupid enough to think that I'm always right. Hey, I've been married almost 34 years to a strong woman.

Third, my old-school WW II/Korean War/POW NCO dad raised me to respect manners. You can insult me as long as you are civil and do it with panache. Do an ad hominin attack and I'll consign you to the same category as Steve Bannon. Make me laugh and I'll buy you a drink.

Fourth and most importantly, the safety community does not focus on money – not solely – we are talking about sending workers home to their families each night and in one piece. I've sat with devastated CEOs and supervisors after they lost an employee.

  • There is no conflict in seeking to maximize profits and in protecting one's workers.
  • I'd argue based on experience that in the long run, a company with a robust safety culture and the related attention to detail will make more profits and more effectively compete in the workplace. This is not pie-in-the-sky pontification. Think about the mindset associated with thinking safety first, and then consider how those same attitudes affect one's sense of accountability, efficiency, and attention to detail.
  • Moreover, employee morale is a major factor in competitiveness and nothing poisons morale as much as feeling as if your employer is oblivious to or doesn't care about your safety. Common sense.

Jordan Barab's Comments.

Jordan sent the following Comments about my recent Post, End of the Year Whirlwind for Labor, Employment and OSHA Matters: Part I of III. I omitted the comments he made about me being a man among men and a towering intellect ... I can't wait to see Jordan's "observations" on this sentence ....

Otherwise, it's word-for-word with a few comments by me.

Howard: Happy New Year. Hope you and your family are well.

I always enjoy reading your articles even though clearly we don't always agree with each other. Such is life. But just wanted to raise a couple of issues about your recent post: "End of the Year Whirlwind for Labor and OSHA Matters! Part I of III"

My observation ... Jordan has as much temper as do I, and yet this is a polite email – one would have to be a jerk to be offended at the differences in opinion. For the fire breathers out there – if you want people on my side to take you seriously – spend the time being civil. Heck, I know how fiery Jordan can be, so I appreciate the professional courtesy ... and I will listen. And for the record I enjoy Jordan's posts as well. I Tweeted his recent piece on the increase in worker deaths because I agree with him that we should personalize these statistics – they are people, not numbers. I don't have to agree with him on every point in his Post. My earlier post on worker deaths agreed with many of his observations.

Most of it I enjoyed one part where you recycle a common myth about the Obama administration: "Of course Scott will want to emphasize consultation and cooperative efforts, but the previous Administration decimated the consultation staff and OSHA is woefully underfunded and understaffed for even its core safety role."

We did not "decimate" the consultation staff. If you look at Compliance Assistance funding the federal Compliance Assistance line item went up from $72,659,000 in 2009 to 76,355 in FY 2013. It was then cut during the sequestration year (FY 2013) and was one of two OSHA line items that never recovered (the other being state plans). But that was the doing of Congress, not the administration. We consistently asked for more money for compliance assistance, which was never provided by Congress (with the exception of one year). And the Administration's last budget request for FY 2017 would have finally raised the federal Compliance Assistance total back up to where it was in FY 2012. Consultation funding went up from $54, 531 in FY 2009 to $57,775 in FY 2016.

Jordan and I agree that neither party has adequately funded the Agency. I understand the frustration of some Congressional Representatives and their constituents, but every fair analysis shows that OSHA needs more money, including for consultation.

We were strong supporters of compliance assistance. Unfortunately, funding was clearly not enough to keep as many CAS's as we wanted, nor enough to expand VPP. In any case, we hardly decimated it, and whatever contraction occurred was due to Appropriations, not administration efforts to cut back the program.

One other item. You write that "Sure, the punitive approach, public shaming of employers and shift of resources to whistleblower efforts at the expense of core safety enforcement ticked off many employers." First, we didn't "shift" resources to whistleblower. We created a whole new line item for whistleblower that hadn't been there before. It had formerly been part of the enforcement budget. Being as whistleblower has more bipartisan support than enforcement, for example, that item did enjoy some increases after 2010, but not "at the expense of" enforcement. Also, not sure how defending workers' rights to participate in safety and health activities without fear of retaliation is not a "core safety" item for OSHA that enhances the agency's enforcement efforts.

I'd Like Some Input from Unions, Employee Advocates and Others on Practical Day-to-Day Safety Advice for Managers.

I spend much of my time representing construction employers and many of those companies use union workers. Many of the crafts have outstanding safety programs and are valuable employer partners in the safety process. I will not pretend to have a similar attitude toward many unions or for every local – but the Crafts would point out that not every employer is the same.

So if you are a Union, Public Interest Group, or Government Reader, share your recommendations – what you would like to tell interested executives and managers – about creating a safety culture and on a day-to-day basis improving safety.

Howard

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

    Disclaimer

    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

    Registration

    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

    Cookies

    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

    Links

    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

    Mail-A-Friend

    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

    Emails

    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .

    Security

    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions