Lesson 1: Introduction to Evaluation and Leadership
It seems that the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) by the federal government in 1970 was never viewed as a positive development by employers in this country. It was thought of as a punishment for bad working conditions that caused great morbidity and mortality among American workers. The business sector has historically been resistant to NIOSH and OSHA because they were perceived to lack value and their standards and recommendations were assumed to have profit – cutting consequences. These federal agencies compounded their credibility problem by having difficulty proving value for their research, regulation, and compliance programs. Therefore their budgets continued to be cut by Congress, and there was discussion in recent administrations of disbanding the entire agency assigned to workplace safety and health.
A company goes into business to make a profit. Without profits it is virtually impossible to stay in business for a long period of time. OSHA fines for violating workplace safety mandates have never really offered an incentive for businesses to significantly change they way they address safety and health for their employees. So employers have generally complied at the most minimal levels that would avoid OSHA penalties. Only when employee safety and health programs can be proven to increase profits through healthy employees will they be embraced by business and industry
leaders. This lesson examines some concepts and methods that can help public health professionals and others determine the value of workplace prevention programs.