Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm Back...

In the last week the Pump Handle has posted two interesting articles, one on how slow the administration has been to put forth nominations for DOL, and the other on a FOIA request at MSHA. The first post I'll let you read and draw your own conclusions about.

The second post is the one that really made me sit up and laugh, it reminds me of our own Ergonomic Case Development Procedures. Does anyone remember reading these, you know, before your RA decided that they were ridiculous and that your region wouldn't be doing any ergonomic cases? My copy says "SOL DRAFT 6/27/02 - Privileged and Confidential." As far as I know, these procedures haven't changed by so much as one letter in 7 YEARS! How can something still be a draft if we're expected to use it, yet nothing has changed in 7 YEARS! I'll tell you how, someone doesn't want those procedures released to the public.

I don't get it, we publish almost everything so businesses know what we expect from them, why not this? I would love for some one to do a FOIA request under the DOJ's new "when in doubt, release it" policy. When SOL denies it, I would hope the requester would point out the procedures were in draft just to keep them from the public and bring the case to court.

I also want to clarify a couple of things said over on the OSHA Underground with their last two posts.

First, the number of inspections a CSHO conducts were removed from our performance elements after Congress passed the legislation in 1998, not in the late 1980's.

Second, this was, in part, a result of the NCFLL (National Council of Field Labor Locals, our union) pushing for it. Kennedy may have been the sponsor, but the NCFLL pushed it. There is some history here, in the old days an IH could do 40 inspections and get an Outstanding, but if a safety did one PSM inspection or a big fatality, they could end up with 40 inspections and get a Fails to Meet on that element. It was a pretty unfair system. I'm not saying today's system is any better, but removing the number of inspections from our evaluation was at least an attempt to fix a problem.

For those of you who are new to the agency or don't work for OSHA, contrary to what Kane says, don't expect big changes in OSHA anytime soon. This is my 5th president and will be my 6th Assistant Secretary, and, while the changes will eventually be noticeable, they won't happen fast and they won't be dramatic. Not withstanding the fact that Kane continues to give the Secretary credit for the work that CSHOs are doing, the simple fact is you can't turn a bureaucracy 90 degrees, much less 180 degrees. And you certainly can't force the change in direction overnight.

Yes, we will have more CSHOs, and yes, we should finally have the money for training, but I also expect more emphasis programs. Now we'll have less time to do more inspections, and the additional inspections are going to be more complex.

You have to keep in mind that most of those 130 new CSHOs don't know anything. They may have masters degrees, but they're still relatively stupid and won't be capable of conducting an inspection on their own for almost a year. Once they're out on their own, they're likely to get just the simplest of inspections for the next 1-2 years. This means that each of us are going to have to do more inspections, and each of those inspections will be, on average, more complex than what we're doing now. Right now I get to mix in a few B.S. complaints that we all know before I even go out are going to be in compliance, but now the new CSHOs are going to get those and I'm going to be stuck with extra SST or NEP inspections.

Not one of those 130 CSHOs have been hired yet, so we don't actually have a change, what we have so far is the promise of change. The only actual change I've seen is in our own attitude. We seem to believe that this administration is behind us to support us, not in front of us slowing the ship down. Only time will tell.

Finally, big ups to the Eau Clair AO, not the Secretary, for Milk Specialties Company.


  1. Abel,

    What exactly is the evaluation system for CSHOs nowadays? Does a CSHO get dinged at review time if their citations are constantly contested by employers? Or SOL tells them their citations are no good? Or vacated by the Commission?

  2. What do you mean less time for inspections?

  3. Theoretically we're supposed to get three weeks of training per year, but for the last few years we haven't had money for training so we've spent those three weeks doing more inspections. With the additional money I expect us to get, we might get the three weeks we're "supposed" to, that means three fewer weeks of inspections.

    Run the numbers real quick, there are 52 weeks per year, minus 5 for leave (for us old farts), 2 for holidays, 1 for sick, 3 for duty officer, 5 for misc. (meetings, presentations, etc). That leaves 34 weeks for inspections without training. Now subtract 3 more weeks, or almost 10% of our remaining time.

    This doesn't count the time we'll loose teaching the new CSHOs. The newbies are going to slow us down for awhile, which is OK, I slowed my teachers down too, we just need to recognize that it's going to happen.