It’s Time to Rethink OSHA (and Run It More Like the Fed)
As an editor for Roofing Contractor, I’ve always endeavored to stay neutral when it comes to partisan politics. My opinions may have been identified with one party or the other at times, but it was never my intention to take sides. The focus of this publication is, and has always been, about whatever it takes for roofing contractors to succeed in their business.
While none of that’s going to change, I have an opinion to share that veers somewhat into the world of party politics. Again; not taking sides. I’ve been considering this for some time and think an election year is the best time to toss it out there.
I believe the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) should be led by a board of safety professionals with a variety of industry experience; not the politically-connected appointed by the prevailing party.
Since 1935, the Federal Reserve Bank (The Fed) has been led by a board of governors who sit on the board for long terms and cannot be removed for their political views. They’re appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate, but that’s where the politics should end. The Fed board chair is appointed by the president from among the board of governors for shorter, four-year terms.
Later this year, we will elect a new president and, in essence, a new senior leadership that will take OSHA in yet another new direction. Depending on who’s elected, that may be a nominal shift or it may be a radical shift. In the world of party politics, you’re not appointed to a position directly below cabinet level without being politically motivated, connected, and driven.
Why can’t OSHA be led by an apolitical board; duly constituted and appointed the same way as the Fed board?
OSHA’s focus should be defending and benefiting workers, and I believe the best way to accomplish that is by maintaining a healthy and open dialog with the employers. Today, OSHA and employers enjoy a relationship that may be best described as an “armed truce.”
OSHA should not be driven by employers, but should operate as if employers are equal stakeholders in the world of occupational safety and health. Legitimate employers know that a clean, well-organized, and safe workplace is sustainable and more competitive and profitable than it might be otherwise. Banks may not always love what the Fed sends their way in terms of monetary policy, but I believe the Fed has had a pretty good track record over the past eight decades.
I’m not so naive as to believe there are no politics in the Fed or that the Fed chair or Fed governors are not politically connected. I do, however, believe that the Fed leadership spends its time working on monetary policy; not Republican or Democrat policy. I’d like to see an OSHA that all constituencies can believe in, including the politicians that appoint them as well as workers and employers.
Off the soap box now. You may not gain much from my opinions on the makeup of OSHA, but you will find great value in our annual State of the Industry Report. I encourage you to check it out.