Safety at the Workplace

I read with interest reporter Ted Rohrlich's story (Feb. 20) on state and federal government programs to encourage employers to voluntarily ensure that their workplaces are safe and healthy for their employees. I thought it was enlightening and timely.

As reported, California has pioneered an innovative concept that the federal government has adopted for nationwide use. Unquestionably, employers and employees are kept informed about their work sites and the ever-changing conditions that exist in them. Working together, only they can ensure that working conditions are as safe and healthy as possible. All of the rules, regulations, laws and orders that Cal/Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces are meant to bolster that fact.

As Rohrlich points out, the monetary and moral rewards of having a safe and healthy workplace are considerable, and most employers in today's environment certainly seem enlightened enough to appreciate that fact. California's experience in administering these types of voluntary compliance programs have been positive and have had excellent results wherever they have been instituted.

The Cal/OSHA Consultation Service, for example, has for many years encouraged the voluntary concept among the state's smaller employers, and since 1979 has administered a Small Employer Voluntary Compliance Program, which currently has about 300 participants. The results of that program have also been exceptional.

The department has recently expanded these concepts into a new Cooperative Self-Inspection Program (CSIP), which is administered by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the Consultation Service. CSIP, although still a new program and one in which only a few companies have participated thus far, is now fully operational, and we encourage employers to contact their local Cal/OSHA office to learn about the possibility of participating in it.

Certainly, I share the concern as to why more employers are not seeking participation in such a program. Based on past results and experience, participation has provided innumerable tangible rewards that are of benefit to the employees, the employer, and society in general. To that end we have implemented aggressive marketing and recruiting efforts in an attempt to increase awareness of and participation in the program.


San Francisco

Rinaldi is director of the state Department of Industrial Relations.

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