Friday, March 13, 2009

More CSHOs

The OSHA Underground posted an entry on our new budget, and while I don't disagree with anything they said, I do want to throw out a cautionary note: those 100 new CSHOs aren't going to hit the ground running. Brand new CSHOs typically get attached to a senior CSHO's hip for about a year as they learn the job, then it takes anywhere from 2-4 more years for them to get good at their jobs (there's just so much to learn). The year of attachment, of course, can also slow the senior CSHO down. Keeping in mind that optimistically the new CSHOs will get hired beginning in August at the earliest, and the jobs won't be filled until the end of the year at the earliest, we're looking at the end of next year before any of the newbies are doing inspections on their own. Also keep in mind that we are going to be loosing many senior CSHOs in that time to retirement, which depletes the training pool. No, I don't think we're going to see any impact by those new CSHOs until 2011 and no significant impact until 2012-13.

Hopefully, next year we'll be able to hire even more, because even the 100 aren't enough.


  1. Thanks for the inside view of how the OSHA training process would operate.

  2. As much as I have reservations asking for legal help, I do believe the following suggestions would greatly enhance enforcement process at the field level.

    That is, staff Area Offices with SOL attorneys for the purpose of assisting CSHOs with inspection activities and case file preparation. Foremost, the attorneys must serve their client and not the other way around. This could reduce friction between OSHA / SOL and generate much better case file documentation. Most importantly, pro-active SOL participation at the inspection level will signal to employers that the “game” is over and that OSHA means business.

    Currently, many companies know that SOL will not go to trial and, as such, they play this point to the max ... in order to get the citations dropped. I have even seen folks bragging on the blogs about this strategy. Astute “lawyering strategies” from employers' counsel must be countered by better field SOL and Area Office cooperation. This is critical to uphold worker protection actions. Working together will help CSHOs get investigation facts through the subpoena process while at the same time using our attorney’s to reduce opposing counsels’ interference. How many times have you heard an employer demand to sit in on employee interviews? The opposing counsel bullying will be reduced with up-front SOL support.

    I have asked for engineering and SOL support during major investigation efforts in the past and, due to resource constraints or ignorance, received no assistance from the region – that is, until it was time to critique the investigation facts after the closing conference. You know the story thereafter … Adequate resources, such as SOL and engineering support, must be readily available at each Area Office. Some regions do not have these important engineering resources and if they do, Area Directors are hesitant to give them up do to their own office goals.

    In terms of Agency growth, let’s consider strengthening what we have rather than running out and simply hiring more to do the same that gets thrown back in the Area Offices’ face by the Region and SOL. With a well-thought-out approach, the Agency may even consider measuring itself by the outcome of the inspection (after settlement), rather than simply by the citations that are proposed. We all know that the Agency’s real effectiveness is the outcome of the investigation. The evaluation of OSHA’s effectiveness needs improvement and should eventually monitor the post-inspection injury/illness improvements after OSHA activities. Until then, it would help to measure the final outcomes of inspections in terms of settlement results instead of what citations are proposed … due to the disparity of the two sets of data.

  3. SOL, I wonder what that acronym means?

  4. The lawyers would be different if they worked for an Area Director.