Occupational Safety and Health:

Changes Needed in the Combined Federal-State Approach

T-HRD-94-3: Published: Oct 20, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 1993.

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GAO discussed ways the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can improve federal and state approaches to work-place safety and health, focusing on: (1) weaknesses in state safety and health program oversight; (2) unique state safety and health program features; and (3) opportunities for improving federal and state approaches to work-place safety. GAO noted that: (1) OSHA lacks sufficient program information, follow-up procedures, and state self-assessment requirements to adequately measure the effectiveness of state safety and health programs; (3) of the 21 states with private-sector enforcement responsibility, only one state's performance was acceptable in the five priority program areas; (4) some states have developed unique health and safety program features that include comprehensive work-site safety and health programs, work-site injury and illness data, authority to shutdown operations in dangerous situations, and coverage for state and local government employees; and (5) OSHA could improve federal and state approaches to work-place safety and health by extending its resources, encouraging employers to voluntarily identify and correct occupational safety and health hazards without inspections, increasing its information on federal and state program effectiveness, and emphasizing program outcomes.

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