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Calling for a new approach to regulation that meets the country's changing needs but not one that lets special interests dictate the regulatory process, President Clinton and Vice President Gore today (5/16) will announce dramatic initiatives to reinvent the way the federal government protects worker safety and health.

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OSHA To Work In Partnership With Business, Labor To Reform Regulatory Process -- May 16, 1995

Calling for a new approach to regulation that meets the country's changing needs but not one that lets special interests dictate the regulatory process, President Clinton and Vice President Gore today (5/16) will announce dramatic initiatives to reinvent the way the federal government protects worker safety and health.

In a visit to a local manufacturer affected by OSHA regulations, Stromberg Sheet Metal Works of Washington, D.C., President Clinton will call for replacing yesterday's government with a new government that can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. He will unveil a report, "The New OSHA: Reinventing Worker Safety and Health," that outlines how the Administration will bring back common sense to regulation without stripping away the safeguards.

The President will emphasize his commitment to protect worker safety and health through common sense, partnership, and flexibility, while not allowing a roll back of the country's responsibility to protect its workers.

Specifically, OSHA will fundamentally change its operations from one of command-and-control to one that builds partnerships among regulators and business. Secondly, OSHA will eliminate or fix out-of-date and confusing standards and instead identify clear and sensible priorities. Finally, OSHA will target the most serious hazards and the most dangerous workplaces by insisting on results instead of red tape.

Vice President Gore will describe a groundbreaking new approach to regulating worker safety and health already in place, the Maine 200 program. The Maine 200 program, instituted in 1993, involves 200 companies in the State of Maine that worked in partnership with OSHA regulators to dramatically improve worker health and safety. While receiving federal assistance in developing strong health and safety programs and the incentive of low- priority for inspections, employers in the program self-identified more than 14 times as many hazards as could have been cited by OSHA inspectors. In addition, six out of 10 participating businesses reduced injury and illness rates even while inspections and fines significantly diminished. Today's announcement expands the Maine 200 program nationally.

Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph Dear will accompany President Clinton and Vice President Gore to today's event. In addition to nationalizing the Maine 200 program, OSHA announced other initiatives to help it reach the goal of increased worker health and safety, and decreased burdensome rules and overzealous enforcement including:

* Focused inspections for employers with strong and effective safety and health programs. Where an effective program is found to be operating on- site, OSHA will conduct an inspection limited to the top four hazards that kill workers in the construction industry;

* Adoption of "Quick Fix" incentives for fixing hazards quickly. Using this model, compliance officers reduce penalties for violations that are abated during the inspection, encouraging employers to increase employee protection immediately while reducing follow-up work;

* Use of information technology to increase compliance. OSHA has implemented information-dissemination projects and will undertake new ones to improve the availability of safety and health data to the public and employers and workers through information technology.

Since passage of the 1970 legislation creating OSHA, workplace deaths have been cut in half. Incidents of brown lung among textile industry workers have dropped from 20 percent of workers to 1 percent. Since 1990 when OSHA strengthened trenching protections, deaths caused by trench cave- ins have decreased by 35 percent.

Despite these efforts, every year more than 6000 Americans die from workplace injuries and 6 million people suffer non-fatal injuries at work. Injuries alone cost the economy more than $110 billion a year.

On March 16, 1995, President Clinton announced regulatory reform plans which make it easier for businesses to comply with federal rules. He ordered regulators to cut obsolete regulations; reward results, not red tape; create grass-roots partnerships with regulators and those affected by their regulations; and negotiate, not dictate regulations.

Today's announcement follows previous ones involving the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, which also have successfully reinvented the way they regulate business. The proposal to make the federal government more effective and responsive in the area of regulation was first proposed by Vice President Gore in his National Performance Review Report, presented to President Clinton in September 1993.

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